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Episode 15: The Grandmother Hypothesis

When Kristen Hawkes first started to research the foraging habits of the Hadza hunter-gatherers, she noticed that the older women in the society were spending their time collecting food and sharing it with their grandchildren. She started to wonder if this type of contribution from grandmothers might explain why humans have such long lives. Her grandmother hypothesis suggests that grandmothering may have led to many of the things that make humans different from other great apes.

Thanks to Kristen Hawkes of the University of Utah for sharing her work with us. Dr. Hawkes is a member of The Leakey Foundation’s Scientific Executive Committee.


Kristen Hawkes’ Website

Grandmothers and the evolution of pair bonds

Grandmothers and the evolution of human longevity: a review of findings and future directions


This episode was produced by Schuyler Swenson. Our editor is Audrey Quinn. Scoring and mixing by Schuyler Swenson. Origin Stories theme music by Henry Nagle. Additional music by Lee Rosevere. 


This episode was produced with support from the Being Human initiative of The Baumann Foundation and The Leakey Foundation.

Transcripts are provided by Adept Word Management.

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