A new study says that middle aged people are at the peak of the evolutionary scale as they are perfectly adapted to cater to the needs of family and society.
According to Dr David Bainbridge, a Cambridge University researcher, people in their forties and fifties might lament about their changing figure or the passing of childbearing age, but these changes are vital to the success of the human species.
AdvertisementWhile certain physical attributes like skin suppleness and short-range eyesight decline noticeably in the fifth and sixth decades of life, more important aspects such as brainpower remain practically undiminished.
Humans are almost unique among animals in that women lose the ability to have children roughly half way through their lives, with at least two decades of healthy life remaining beyond childbearing age. By remaining faithful, men effectively give up the ability to have children also, the Telegraph reported.
But being such complicated species, adults are required to do much more than simply produce and rear offspring, Dr Bainbridge said.
"Middle age is a controlled and preprogrammed process not of decline but of development," he told the New Scientist magazine.
"The multiple roles of middle-aged people in human societies are so complex and intertwined, it could be argued that they are the most impressive living things yet produced by natural selection."
Many middle-aged women express grief for the loss of their youthful figure as fat deposits leave the breasts, hips and thighs and gather in larger quantities around the midriff.
But this occurs because the body is no longer required to give birth to children and storing fat centrally makes it easier to carry around.
In evolutionary terms, having more fat would also have allowed our ancestors to use it for sustenance in difficult times, leaving more food for younger generations to survive on.
Contrary to popular belief many of our prehistoric ancestors lived beyond 40, and they developed over thousands of years into skilled and experienced "super-providers", Dr Bainbridge said.
"Each of us depends on culture to survive, and the main route by which culture is transmitted is by middle-aged people telling children and young adults what to do."
"Middle-aged people can do more, earn more and, in short, they run the world," he added.