Single mothers were "never part of evolution"

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Melbourne, Sep 22 (ANI): There was "no such thing as a single mother" in the Pleistocene epoch, which covered almost 2.5million years and ended 12,000 years ago, according to an American emeritus professor of anthropology.

Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, who has investigated parenting in a host of animals, including monkeys, apes and people for more than two decades, said that a single mother in the Pleistocene age "would have died, the baby would have died".

She argued that "shared care" evolved in the distant past, along with the intellectual skills that gave ancestral humans an edge.

Blaffer Hrdy further said that humans are the only primates that allow anyone other than the mother to hold and feed an infant.

Without such mutual support, highly dependent, slow-maturing human infants could not survive, reports The Australian.

"There's a lot of shared provisioning in other animals, but not in any other ape," she claimed.

"Shared care is natural. In hunting and gathering and traditional societies, infants are cared for mostly by older siblings, aunts, grandmothers, fathers and male cousins," she added.

Blaffer Hrdy advised fragmented families of the modern world that children should always be picked up when they cried.

"It doesn't make it more spoiled. A more secure baby will cry less later in life," she said.

Another lesson from evolution was that the more "alloparents"-friends and family to help with the baby-the better.

Thus, she said "daycare is here to stay" and that the carers should be consistent.

Blaffer Hrdy advised women with partners, saying: "There's a vast untapped resource out there called paternal care. Men who are close to pregnant women and babies have an amazing transformation."

And for couples with young children and limited "alloparents", Hrdy suggested building "artificial families", from sharing the load with parents in the youngster's playgroup to moving into a home with communal space.

The expert presented her views in Australia at the Charles Darwin Symposium in Darwin. (ANI)

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