When it comes to keeping the little ones safe, grandmother may indeed know best. Tory Kallman/Shutterstock It’s hard to measure how much we benefit from the influence of a grandmother. Grandmothers have a wealth of wisdom and experience — and that translates into all kinds of valuable life lessons . We’re hardly the only species to value them. In fact, their generational influence may play a critical role in orca society. A study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests the elder whales are a key factor in keeping their grandkids alive, especially when food is scarce. The survival rates of those young whales improve even more dramatically if the grandmother has already gone through menopause. That’s particularly surprising since menopause among most animal species is typically associated with the tail end of life. Not so, however, with humans and some whales — including orcas, which can live decades beyond menopause . Now, it seems that added longevity has an evolutionary purpose. Grandmother whales live long after they’ve stopped being able to produce their own offspring, and their continued presence ensures the children of their children grow up strong and healthy. It takes […]

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