Human Evolution, Life History Theory, and the End of Biological Reproduction
Affiliation: Global Brain Institute (GBI), Brussels, Belgium.
Keywords: Aging, biology, culture, evolution, future, human evolution, life history theory, primates.
Throughout primate history there have been three major life history transitions towards increasingly delayed
sexual maturation and biological reproduction, as well as towards extended life expectancy. Monkeys reproduce later and
live longer than do prosimians, apes reproduce later and live longer than do monkeys, and humans reproduce later and live
longer than do apes. These life history transitions are connected to increased encephalization. During the last life history
transition from apes to humans, increased encephalization co-evolved with increased dependence on cultural knowledge
for energy acquisition. This led to a dramatic pressure for more energy investment in growth over current biological reproduction.
Since the industrial revolution socioeconomic development has led to even more energy being devoted to
growth over current biological reproduction. I propose that this is the beginning of an ongoing fourth major primate life
history transition towards completely delayed biological reproduction and an extension of the evolved human life expectancy.
I argue that the only fundamental difference between this primate life history transition and previous life history
transitions is that this transition is being driven solely by cultural evolution, which may suggest some deeper evolutionary
transition away from biological evolution is already in the process of occurring.
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