Colloquium papers: Transfers and transitions: parent-offspring conflict, genomic imprinting, and the evolution of human life history

Date Published:

Jan 26


Human offspring are weaned earlier than the offspring of other great apes but take longer to reach nutritional independence. An analysis of human disorders of imprinted genes suggests genes of paternal origin, expressed in infants, have been selected to favor more intense suckling than genes of maternal origin. The same analysis suggests that genes of maternal origin may favor slower childhood growth but earlier sexual maturation. These observations are consistent with a hypothesis in which slow maturation was an adaptation of offspring that reduced maternal fitness, whereas early weaning was an adaptation of mothers that reduced the fitness of individual offspring.


Haig, DavidengReview2009/08/12 09:00Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jan 26;107 Suppl 1:1731-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0904111106. Epub 2009 Aug 4.

Last updated on 09/18/2015