A new study suggests that by going into menopause, killer whale grandmothers end competition with their offspring and increase the survival chances of their grandcalves.
In humans this is called the “grandmother effect” and it is one hypothesis that may explain why humans can live so long. Turns out, this may also be the case with killer whales.
The study was published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and may explain why some whale species live for extended periods after their reproductive life ends.
Killer whales can live as long as humans and the study found evidence that orca grandmothers will help their grandcalves find food in lean times, making their role even more critical in conservation efforts.