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Sep. 5th, 2007 (UTC)

matrix_revelation
Interesting article. I think it has a couple of flaws, the most major of which is a focus on pair-bonding as "the" evolutionary strategy of human reproduction; most evolutionary biologists who study human breeding strategies think it's more complex than that.

A human female has an evolutionary advantage in choosing mates who will stick around and help raise the young, for reasons which the article goes into at length. But there is also an evolutionary advantage in fathering multiple children with multiple fathers. Multiple fathers means a wider assortment of genes in the offspring. Since a woman always knows that any child she has is genetically hers, it pays to have as wide a genetic assortment of fathers as possible, because if she puts all her genetic eggs in one basket--fathering all her children with one father--then her young may all be vulnerable to, for example, a particular disease or parasite to which the father happens to be particularly vulnerable.

There is no one singe "best mate." A mate who is physically strong, who cares for the children, and who is otherwise genetically desirable but who contains a genetic weakness that is lurking beneath the surface may doom all of a woman's offspring. Women who were strictly monogamous faced a tiny, but nevertheless still present, genetic risk; women who fathered children with many males could, to a tiny degree, offset that risk.

So in other words, there is an evolutionary advantage to be pair-bonded in a long-term relationship with a mate, but to cheat on that mate with other males! Women who do this have a greater chance of having at least one of their children survive a calamity to which their long-term mate has some particular genetic susceptibility, such as disease.


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