Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped by Wenda Trevathan Ph.D.

By Wenda Trevathan Ph.D.

Winner of the 2011 W.W. Howells e-book Award of the yank Anthropological Association

How has bipedalism impacted human childbirth? Do PMS and postpartum melancholy have particular, perhaps even worthy, features? those are just of the various questions that experts in evolutionary medication search to respond to, and that anthropologist Wenda Trevathan addresses in Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives.

Exploring a variety of women's future health concerns that could be seen via an evolutionary lens, in particular targeting copy, Trevathan delves into concerns comparable to the clinical outcomes of early puberty in women, the effect of migration, tradition swap, and poverty on reproductive health and wellbeing, and the way fetal development retardation impacts healthiness in later existence. Hypothesizing that some of the overall healthiness demanding situations confronted by way of girls this present day end result from a mismatch among how their our bodies have advanced and the modern environments within which sleek people stay, Trevathan sheds mild at the energy and strength of interpreting the human existence cycle from an evolutionary viewpoint, and the way this is able to enhance our realizing of women's overall healthiness and our skill to confront wellbeing and fitness demanding situations in additional artistic, potent ways.

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Additional info for Ancient Bodies, Modern Lives: How Evolution Has Shaped Women's Health

Sample text

The period between childhood and adulthood is both a biological and a cultural stage and we cannot understand one without knowing about the other. Trade-Offs in Growing Up In the introductory chapter, I discussed life-history theory, noting that animals have only so much energy to devote to growing, staying alive, and reproducing. They must budget that valuable resource in ways that ultimately lead to increased reproductive success, the only measure of success as far as evolution is concerned. Beginning at birth, energy is devoted to growing and maintaining health sufficient to reach adulthood.

Of course these differences relate to the different ‘‘jobs’’ that the pelvic girdle does, especially in serving as the passage for childbirth in women, as will be discussed extensively in Chapter 5. Humans, especially females, have a fairly long period of what is often (and erroneously) referred to as ‘‘adolescent sterility’’ (as noted in the introductory Are We Grown Up Yet? 25 chapter with regard to fertility and fecundity, this period is more appropriately called ‘‘adolescent subfecundity’’) following menarche in which most, if not all, menstrual cycles are nonovulatory.

Furthermore, the younger the girl was when her father left, the earlier her menarche, and if she subsequently lived with a stepfather, menarche was even earlier. In other words, long-term exposure to related males seems to delay menarche, whereas exposure to unrelated males appears to accelerate it. If indeed early menarche is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, it could be argued that being raised by two parents is protective for a number of health risks. This may be a stretch, however, because the both-parents-raising-children model that we have in the United States is far from universal across cultures.

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