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Evolution of human post-menopausal longevity: Grandmother Hypothesis


An outstanding question in human evolution is why humans developed such long lifespans, greatly exceeding the end of female fertility.  As far as we know, only pilot whales and killer whales share this trait.  The Grandmother Hypothesis proposes that humans developed increased longetivity as ancestral grandmothers began to help care for their daughters' children, allowing their daughters to move on to the next child sooner.  As part of an exciting collaboration with a leading anthropologist at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA, we develop models of primate populations to determine under what conditions grandmother help could drive increased longetivity without increased reproduction.  We also consider alternative hypotheses, including the Hunting Hypothesis that male hunting in groups and long-term pair bonding with females pushed human longevity.


Associate Professor Peter Kim.

Research location

School of Mathematics and Statistics

Program type



We formulate novel mathematical models to quantify and simulate many ideas presented as verbal hypotheses of how humans and other primates evolved.

Additional information

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2477