"Noel has taken on the role of allomother
, carrying the baby about 50% of the time.
Increasingly, cross-cultural data suggest that mothers meet this reproductive challenge by relying on the assistance of other group members, allomothers
, who provide care for and/or provision her children.
The value of motherese is also contingent on the availability (or lack) of group members beside the mother to act as care-givers and infant-carriers (allomothers
) to soothe distressed infants.
For instance, "cooperative breeders," "allomothers
," "eusocial," and "altruism," have specific meanings within subdisciplines and do not translate clearly into other contexts, especially with regard to human behavior.
These babysitters are called allomothers
. They give calves loads of care.
Reproductive success often hinges on females' ability to win high status, but in many species, and markedly in primates, efforts to ensure success can also take the form of infant murder: high-status females, ensure the availability of "allomothers"--other females who will help care for their young--by killing those females' offspring.
Wilson (among others) has claimed that evolutionary survival required women to stay home while men hunted, anthropologists now believe that women foraged as many as 1,500 miles a year while carrying and continually suckling young children--or leaving them in the care of allomothers. Women maintaining such levels of exertion did not become pregnant easily, because low levels of body fat signaled to their reproductive systems that they could not sustain a healthy pregnancy.
Seemingly in a case of science catching up to reality, evolutionists now recognize that in prehistory, humans may have confronted some conditions which dictated care by allomothers. Common sense suggests that given maternal ambivalence, attention from multiple caregivers might actually foster emotional security and physical health, and indeed Hrdy reports that primates that share infant care grow faster, are less likely to die young, and are more fertile.