Table of Contents
International Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 165919, 9 pages
Research Article

The Selfish Grandma Gene: The Roles of the X-Chromosome and Paternity Uncertainty in the Evolution of Grandmothering Behavior and Longevity

1Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Pembroke Street, Cambridge CB2 3QY, UK
2Zentrum für Philosophie und Grundlagen der Wissenschaft, Universität Giessen, Otto-Behaghel-Straße 10 C, 35394 Giessen, Germany

Received 6 October 2010; Revised 7 December 2010; Accepted 18 January 2011

Academic Editor: Alberto Civetta

Copyright © 2011 Molly Fox et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


When considering inclusive fitness, it is expected that individuals will provide more care towards those with whom they are more closely related. Thus, if a selfish X-linked genetic element influenced care giving, we would expect care giving to vary with X-relatedness. Recent studies have shown that X-chromosome inheritance patterns may influence selection of traits affecting behavior and life-history. Sexually antagonistic (SA) zygotic drive could encourage individuals to help those with whom they are more likely to share genetic material at the expense of other relatives. We reanalyze previously reported data in light of this new idea. We also evaluate the effects of paternity uncertainty on SA-zygotic drive. Our evidence suggests that human paternal discrepancy is relatively low. Using published models, we find the effects of paternal discrepancy do not override opportunity for selection based on X-relatedness. Based on these results, longevity and grandmothering behaviors, including favoritism, may be more heavily influenced by selection on the X-chromosome than by paternity uncertainty.