TIL Female humans, pilot whales and killer whales are unique among animals: they are the only three mammals known to undergo menopause. This allows them to help their children survive into adulthood and—if they’re lucky—to act as grandmothers to the next generation.

TIL Female humans, pilot whales and killer whales are unique among animals: they are the only thr...

me: "what do you and a whale have in common?"

girlfriend: (slap) (leaves)

Yeah, except that's not true.

They've discovered orangutans have menopause. They just had never looked before.


It wouldn't surprise if it turns out that other species have menopause. We just have to look for it.

I read that as:

Female human pilots, whales and killers....

Thought they were dissing females.

Some dude gets paid to look and see if an orangutan still menstruates.

I read it three times tying to figure out how these ladies were piloting whales. It’s just a lot of words we don’t see together often I guess.

imagining whale periods

Dress for the job you want. That's why I cover myself in orangutan menstrate every morning.

Edit: I'm leaving menstrate because I like it.

Sharks only want one thing and it's fucking disgusting

We learned about this in my bioevolution class. What a species need for them to have evolved menopause or a post-reproductive life span is 1. A long life span 2. A higher male than female mortality rate and 3. To be semi intelligent. Another possible attribute is to be a mammal and to be social creatures. A post reproductive lifespan allows the older generations to pass down knowledge to the younger ones. In times of low food availability orca pods with older female leaders had a higher survival rate than those with younger or male leaders because of their experience.

A post-menopausal woman can continue to nurture her children and grandchildren without the burden or additional pregnancies or adding extra offspring that consume resources?

Sharks would smell it for miles

For those wondering, only primates, bats and elephants have a human-like menstruation. Most other animals reabsorb the decaying endometrium (The upper blood-filled layer of the uterus) instead of shedding it.

The word you are looking for is "menses".

"Grandma, tell us the story about how you once murdered an entire generation of seals in Alaska!"

imagining elephant periods

Isn't that the high IQ society?

~ Sarah Palin's grandkids

"I was going to say you're* both huge and have a massive blubber layer!"

No, that's Mensa.

You're thinking of a medieval musician.

How does menopause help their children survive intoo adulthood and act as grandmothers?

No mating competition either.

I wanted to know why these women were killing whale pilots.

No, that's minstrel. You're thinking of the italian soup.

Pussy blood.

Sharks only want one thing and it's fucking disgusting

I hear you whining from 10 miles away!

No, that's minestrone. You're thinking of Harry Potter's transfiguration professor.

This is why the Oxford comma is important. I read the first portion of this title and pictured:

A human woman using a remote control to drive both one whale and one killer whale.

EDIT: I think reddit has confirmed Oxford commas are good, AND my friends are right, I’m dyslexic.

No that's monogamous you're thinking of another word for boring and repetitive.

No that's McGonagall you're thinking of when you are faithful to the person you're dating.

His girlfriend stopped being interested in sex after their daughter got into a serious relationship.

Psychologically, it means* something like "oh ok, my genetic line is now secured into the future by at least two generations, I can relax now"

*Take with a grain of salt

It’s so the older more established women don’t destroy the young women while competing for dick.

It basically happened to my ex gf when her daughter got her first serious boyfriend. Her libido dropped off, there are a lot of studies corroborating this phenomenon.

Sharks would smell it for miles

I’m still trying to figure out how whales can fit into a cockpit.

I expected elephants as well. But interestingly they don't.

Source: http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/05/why-killer-whales-go-through-menopause-but-ele...

I'm willing to bet a lot of money elephants fall into the category

Yeah interesting, their theory as to why makes sense.

I have an additional theory that may contribute as well. Scientists expect something as big as an elephant, and that lives as long as an elephant, to get tons of cancer, but they don't. Apparently, they have tons of extra copies of this tumor suppression gene that prevents genetic errors from running amok.

Maybe they have a similar mechanism that prevents chromosomal abnormalities during pregnancies. As human women get older, it's more and more likely that their babies will be mentally retarded or deformed. Does this happen with elephants as well, how about pilot whales and killer whales?

I'm guessing that in species where older mothers have more and more defective offspring, there's a much greater drive for menopause to evolve.

A lot of other species probably die too young to have to worry about tons of down syndrome babies. Or, they have large litters where several babies are expected to die anyway.

You'd be a broke man...


Goddamn it.

I think that's where the 9% came from. 91% of Lionesses' die before reaching it.

It was actually in a Biological Anthro class. It was about a researcher who was trying to figure out why human women live long enough to go through menopause and beyond it. As almost all female mammals die before it, and they used the 9% of Lionesses statistic to preface it.

The theory the researcher came up with was that children with living grandmothers in Hunter/Gatherer societies had a better chance of survival, and therefore would pass the old lady gene on. In these societies where men hunted, the the men actually provided very little of the daily calories their children needed for survival. Hunting was a ritual/communal event and when a kill was brought home it would be shared with the entire community. It strengthened bonds, but it didn't actually nourish a specific family very much.

Therefore it was on the mothers to provide the majority of calories needed for survival to the children. But a busy mother, or one with many kids, was often not able to provide the optimum amount. And, thus, enter the grandmother. That old lady sitting around the fire sneaking extra treats and bits of food to her grandchildren.

These better-nourished grandkids, with the old lady genes in them, would go on to do better then the kids without kindly old ladies passing them extra food and pinching their cheeks.

If there’s one thing I hate about being an owner of female parts, it’s the fucking menstruating. I cry thinking about all the resource waste as I bleed my uterine lining out month after month. I get no pain (thankfully) but it sucks knowing that my body’s gotta allocate all those nutrients to something entirely useless for me.

Always spewing from their blowhole

wait what?

Whale planes

Maybe since males don't undergo any menopause-like effects, they remain too fixated on reproducing to gain the wisdom necessary to lead the pod as effectively as an older female could.

It's gods way of punishing you for not being constantly pregnant /s

No, that's Minerva. You're thinking of the brand of candy mints.

Shedding the lining is definitely a drain on biological resources; it means women of menstruating age need way more iron not to become anemic. Aside from being painful and often disabling.

In College I recall being told that 9% of Lionesses undergo menopause as well.

Bro, she cheated on you with her' daughter's then boyfriend.

This made me legit laugh out loud.

Have some gold for making my shitty day a little better. :)

Same. For a few seconds, I thought women could just ride whales, and I never knew about it!

I'm guessing that no longer bearing offspring allows the female to take on a matriarchal role in the group, without the physical stresses and focus required to raise a child. That would leave them free to pass on more detailed experiences and knowledge to both young and old.


*Some dude is passionate about primateolgy and wants to contribute to human knowledge of our closest animal relatives, but probably has to spend more time fighting for pathetic amounts of funding than actually doing research because US allocates a tiny percentage of tax money to fund scientific research

They still might be able to. Female humans have many powers

That's kind of a dumb statistic though. It should be '100% of Lionesses past X age undergo menopause'. You wouldn't say '5% of humans currently have to drink water, the rest are dead'.

No, that’s Mentos. You’re thinking of that awful CBS show about cold reading people

This sounds similar to the "Gay Uncle Hypothesis", a theory that accounts for the genetic prevalence of homosexuality. Basically, it is advantageous to have mature males that do not compete for mates. Additionally, since gay males do not have children, there is reduced consumption of resources associated with having children (children are a resource drain for the first 13 years minimum).

insert samuel jackson's line from Whales On A Plane

Using the oxford comma would have helped.

Day 1: Monkey snatch didn't bleed all day Day 2: Monkey snatch didn't bleed all day Day 3: Monkey snatch didn't bleed all day Day 4: Monkey snatch didn't bleed all day Day 5: Monkey snatch didn't bleed all day


Ya but dogs don’t menstruate. They go through estrus.

Look on the bright side; those that survive the lean times, may go on to help ensure that future generations fare better, due to the experience gained from the bad time.

This kind of attitude towards biological functions is why we are decades behind on women’s reproductive health. You are a period that got to stay. Just sayin.

Ha that's honestly how this sounds...

Parents nagging explained by evolutionary psychology.

No that’s monotony, you’re thinking of another word for that creepy bug with lots of legs.

I didn't know pilot whales was a type of whale, I was thinking the title meant female humans "pilot" whales and killer whales. I was about to call up my girlfriend and ask her if she is a whale pilot lol

Dogs bleed on theirs

Hm, in only 17 minutes

As human women get older, it's more and more likely that their babies will be mentally retarded or deformed.

Or perhaps take down the mother with them in a physiological fight.

Interesting, I like your theory.

Also gestation period for elephants is long (~2 years), so it takes them at least twice years to match the number of off-springs as other species. (e.g. gestation period is twice that of killer whales)

I read it basically the same as what they intended, except for some reason they addressed everyone reading it as "Female humans".

Female humans, aka women.

the female is referring to all 3 species listed.

Sometime I get so mad at the stupid design of my body. We have all of these fluids that have to come out of us but we get some level of control over it. Urine, feces, saliva, mucus.

But my fucking period blood just come out of me and there’s nothig I can do to control it and dispose of it at a convenient location except stick something artificial up me and plug me up.

And now this? Well now I’ve got something else to be mad about because theres another possible way to deal with it. Stupid animals don’t even know they have a period, probably.

Because Mee-Maws and Grannies rule.

That mothafuckin whale on this mothafuckin plane.

To me it follows like this. The males die off faster than the females, that means there’s less older males than there is females. The older living females help the younger generation survive, this puts an indirect selective pressure on females that can survive longer. I assume child rearing can only last so long in most species so that gives rise to menopause or a post reproductive life span.

Fuck, animal menstruation observer can't be much worse than some of the jobs in retail I have had.

Thanks God they specified females. I was worried for a second.

Wouldn’t that be how menopause ended up happening in the first place?

Some would consider, unnatural...

I usually spell it as one word. Goddamnit.

That's like a Buzzfeed headline.

This shark did something incredible with whale period blood, and it's beautiful

How many reach the age when it would occur?

Up, up, and away!

"My grandson flung a seal 80 meters the other day!"

To be fair, discovering whether other primates menstruate is not super competitive for grants.

No they don’t. It’s of vaginal origin, not uterine. It signals the onset of fertility, which is entirely different different from menstruation.

True for humans too, amirite fellas?

It's like Winston Churchill said, if you're going through estrus, keep going.

Stansfield says the study suggests that advancing age is an important key to successful breeding for wild African elephants.

"Male elephants only have input into the gene pool after 35 to 40 years of age," she says.

This mating success is tied to the bull's position of dominance among his peers as a result of his body size.

"It seems that longevity and age are selected for in successful males and it could be the same for females as well, as other studies have shown that matriarchs of the herd are more successful at rearing calves," says Stansfield.

this is really interesting

Isn't that how gollum pluralizes "men"?

I also read it like this. Like I get that they test marker flavors in the Airforce, but it's kinda a low blow.

Puts a whole new (and more accurate) meaning to the term "Shark Week"


This article indicates that males rarely live past 50, which is about the age females experiece menopause. So I think males just don't live long enough to reach that age and experience.

I bet elephants do