What animals give birth
Are there birth pains only in humans?
"I will cause you a lot of hardship when you become a mother. You will bear children with pain." That was God's forewarning to Eve. It is correct: According to wildlife researchers, birth pains also occur in animals. It is reported about elephants, for example, but these are rather isolated cases. Humans are a special case in terms of the extent and regularity of labor pains. There is also an evolutionary or anthropological explanation for this.
Evolution: narrower pelvises and bigger brains
One of the causes of birth pains is the upright walk that our ancestors appropriated a few million years ago in the African savannah. On the one hand, walking upright led to a narrow pelvis. On the other hand, he drove the development of intelligence. Those who walk upright have their hands free, can develop manual dexterity and at some point make tools. Tools that our ancestors could also use to hunt. But all of this requires brainpower. In order to be successful in the hunt, they organized themselves into small groups, which requires a lot of communication - this is another factor that makes the brain grow. And because they hunted now, our ancestors ate more meat - and this protein-rich food also fueled brain growth.
The bottom line is that this results in an opposite development. In politician German one could say: Evolution faced a conflict of objectives: walking upright required a narrow pelvis and thus a narrow birth canal, while increasing intelligence led to a larger brain and therefore larger skull in babies. The result is a compromise that is literally painful.
In this respect, one does not necessarily have to use the dear - or angry - God for an explanation, nevertheless the biblical explanation gives an apt metaphor: Because according to the report of Genesis, the painful birth was the punishment for Eve seducing Adam into it, the fruits to eat from the tree of knowledge. If you look at this "eating from the tree of knowledge" as a symbol for the development of intelligence in early humans, then the picture fits in a certain way: The pain during childbirth was, so to speak, the price that humans pay for their large brains his intelligence had to pay for. Or it was a price. There was another one: unlike most animals, the brain is still very unfinished at birth - otherwise it would simply be too big for the narrow birth canal. Humans are born quite helpless and need more than 15 years after birth to break free from the dependency of their parents. Other animals, including mammals, are much faster because their brains are relatively well developed when they are born. The human brain, on the other hand, continues to grow for a while after birth at the same rate as it did in the womb.
The text and audio of this post are licensed under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Creative Commons license.
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