I'd like to add some thoughts to the discussions that have been happening
under the thread "telomeres".
What happens to an organism after menopause DOES affect its evolution.
In the extreme case, if a woman died immediately after giving birth
to her last child, that child's chances of survival ... and of success ...
would be diminished. Children do not look after themselves; their success
is contributed to by parents, grandparents, aunts, great-aunts, uncles,
great-uncles, etc., unrelated neighbours, etc. When a person stays alive
beyond the child-bearing years, that person usually continues to contribute
to society and thus contributes to the success of their own genes as
represented in their grandchildren, grandneices and nephews, etc. That's one
reason why humans have an instinctive desire to contribute to the community.
Humans did not evolve as individuals, but as communities (almost like
a multi-celled organism, wherin the cells are people!) Now we can use
that instinctive desire to contribute, and focus it on a global perspective
and the ultimate survival of the ecological planet and the whole species of
humans and other life forms too.
Many miscarriages occur, often before the woman knows she's pregnant.
We don't really know the miscarriage rate because it often happens in
the first few weeks and is not detectable. The miscarriage rate can be
decreased a lot by both parents using excellent nutrition (mega-vitamins,
anti-oxidants, etc.) in the three months before conception. Apparently
the miscarriages are usually caused by mutations, which of course are almost
always bad rather than good. (Excellent nutrition during the pregnancy
helps a lot too.) Anyway, this is one way that bad mutations are weeded out
in the human species; that method can't be used by an individual who is
living thousands of years!
Cathy TISSATAAFL Standard disclaimer