Caring

Ben Squires

“Grandparent gene” discovered

“Grandparent gene” discovered

Scientists have discovered something we’ve had a hunch about for decades: Grandparents are great at looking after children.

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego have dubbed their discovery the “grandparent gene,” saying that humans have specifically evolved so that older people can care for grandchildren and pass on wisdom to future generations.

"We unexpectedly discovered that humans have evolved gene variants that can help protect the elderly from dementia," said Dr Ajit Varki of the UC San Diego School of Medicine in an interview.

“Such genes likely evolved to preserve valuable and wise grandmothers and other elders, as well as to delay or prevent the emergence of dependent individuals who could divert resources and effort away from the care of the young.”

The discovery of a “grandparent gene” is just one key aspect that sets humans apart from our animal counterparts. Most animal species rarely live beyond the age of reproduction, as natural selection favours genes that improve reproductive success. Humans, on the other hand, live decades beyond giving birth to form family networks and take on important caring roles later in life.

While more research is needed, scientists believe the “grandparent gene” suggests that grandparents are genetically wired to help care for children and support the growth of the younger generation. Get ready for the babysitting requests. 

Scientists have discovered something we’ve had a hunch about for decades: Grandparents are great at looking after children.

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego have dubbed their discovery the “grandparent gene,” saying that humans have specifically evolved so that older people can care for grandchildren and pass on wisdom to future generations.

"We unexpectedly discovered that humans have evolved gene variants that can help protect the elderly from dementia," said Dr Ajit Varki of the UC San Diego School of Medicine in an interview.

“Such genes likely evolved to preserve valuable and wise grandmothers and other elders, as well as to delay or prevent the emergence of dependent individuals who could divert resources and effort away from the care of the young.”

The discovery of a “grandparent gene” is just one key aspect that sets humans apart from our animal counterparts. Most animal species rarely live beyond the age of reproduction, as natural selection favours genes that improve reproductive success. Humans, on the other hand, live decades beyond giving birth to form family networks and take on important caring roles later in life.

While more research is needed, scientists believe the “grandparent gene” suggests that grandparents are genetically wired to help care for children and support the growth of the younger generation. Get ready for the babysitting requests. 

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