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Monogamy May Have Evolved To Prevent Infanticide 256

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-modest-proposal dept.
sciencehabit writes "Human males and females have a strong tendency to live together in monogamous pairs, albeit for highly varied periods of time and degrees of fidelity. Just how such behavior arose has been the topic of much debate among researchers. A new study comes to a startling conclusion: Among primates, including perhaps humans, monogamy evolved because it protected infants from being killed by rival males."
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Monogamy May Have Evolved To Prevent Infanticide

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  • by BenSchuarmer (922752) on Monday July 29, 2013 @06:37PM (#44417753)
    Been there, done that.
  • If anything humans are polygamous. A third cheat and the reason the other two thirds don't is because of social, financial and other consequences or just aren't attractive enough to get someone to cheat with.

    • by glwtta (532858)
      What you typically see in humans - monogamy with some-to-a-fair-amount-of cheating - is still much closer to monogamy than to polygamy, not to mention the promiscuity you see with most animals.
      • His point was that monogamy in humans has several strong non-genetic factors heavily favoring it. I can certainly imagine the non-genetic factors easily overriding whatever genetic predispositions we may have either way.

        If polygamy carried no political, religious, social, financial, legal, health, etc. consequences or humans lacked the foresight/intelligence/education to consider them like animals do, it would likely be far more common - just look at how "loose" soldiers often got with women in conquered te

    • Someone sounds bitter...
  • It takes a female chimpanzee 4 to 5 years to teach her offspring enough to survive. During that time, she does not come into heat. Humans, on the other hand, can have babies about once a year. A single female could not raise them all on her own without some help. Today, we call that helper a husband and father. Monogamy means more babies.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It takes a female chimpanzee 4 to 5 years to teach her offspring enough to survive. During that time, she does not come into heat. Humans, on the other hand, can have babies about once a year. A single female could not raise them all on her own without some help. Today, we call that helper a husband and father. Monogamy means more babies.

      That's not what they said about Welfare Queens.

    • by vux984 (928602) on Monday July 29, 2013 @07:40PM (#44418287)

      Humans, on the other hand, can have babies about once a year.

      Women who nurse exclusively on average do not get their periods for 14-15 months after childbirth. Some get it right away, some go 2-3 years, but 13-16 months is the average, if they are nursing.

  • It's simple (Score:5, Funny)

    by cyber-vandal (148830) on Monday July 29, 2013 @07:06PM (#44417973) Homepage

    Monogamy evolved because it makes great furniture.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday July 29, 2013 @07:09PM (#44417999)

    I believe evolution happens, both historically and currently, and on scales both grand and small.

    But I'm tired of so-called scientists making news stories out of un-testable speculations about how something or another could have been a factor in our evolutionary past.

    That kind of speculation is for late-night living-room talk, not scientific journals.

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday July 29, 2013 @08:36PM (#44418713) Journal

      But I'm tired of so-called scientists making news stories out of un-testable speculations about how something or another could have been a factor in our evolutionary past.

      Good thing that's not this story then, where the entire point of the paper was to test various hypothesis about monogamy. Seriously, at least RTFA.

      • Yeah, fair point. I was already in a bad mood when I came across this article, and I went into rant mode. Sorry about that. Oh, and get off my lawn.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm tired of so-called scientists making news stories out of un-testable speculations...

      Out of interest, did you RTFA? Or, more importantly, did you read the original [pnas.org] papers [sciencemag.org] it cites? It's a fairly common scenario for scientists to do some real, rigorous testing of a hypothesis, and describe their work in a scientific paper, and then for a mainstream news article to print a dumbed-down version, and smart people reading that article to get the wrong idea of the original work.

      In short: before you bash the scientists involved, read what they wrote, rather than what someone else wrote about them

    • by PRMan (959735)
      But doing actual science is sooooooo haaaaaard. And telling stories is easy and fun!
  • It makes sense in a strange way.

  • "Human males and females have a strong tendency to live together in monogamous pairs"

    As much as they have a strong tendency towards not being able to afford harems.
  • This is merely another variation on the very old theme of humans needed more co-operation than their ancestors.

    "Be sexually faithful or your children die" is a harsh bargain, but such are the stakes in evolutionary biology.

  • The headline of horribly stupid because it identifies and ascribes intention and foresight to a process where those qualities are by definition absent. It's the village idiot's view of evolution and is as useful as thinking that the sun decides to rise each morning in order to warm the earth.

    Monogamy didn't evolve to do X or Y or to prevent Z. It's one of many traits that allowed its carriers' offspring to endure.

    • by julian67 (1022593)

      And I wrote of instead of is. This is because I sleep around, have 9 children by 4 different mothers, and am exhausted to the point of dementia.

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Maybe evolution is their god.
  • by millertym (1946872) on Monday July 29, 2013 @11:56PM (#44419789)
    Being a father of 4, I love those whipper snappers like crazy, even when being annoying, noisy, crying, mean. Other people's kids? Little turds can go the hell if they act like that. Shut them up and get the them the F outta my face. Of course I never say that to anyone and have the higher level thinking to take a step back and get some sympathy. But the initial instinct is there, hating other peoples' childrens' antics. Perhaps a latent instinct still at play.
  • by sulimma (796805) on Tuesday July 30, 2013 @06:12AM (#44421219)

    They did a statistic among many primate species. But the conclusion that this applies to humans is propably wrong:

    The closest relatives of humans - chimps and bonobos - don't live in monogamous pairs.
    Humans share genital features and gender relative body size with bonobos and chimps but not with monogamous primates like gibbons.
    And pure hunter gatherer societies that exist know don't live monogamous.

    It is very likely that monogamy in humans was triggered by agriculture. It really doesn't make much sense for a population living in small communal groups without property.
    http://www.sexatdawn.com/ [sexatdawn.com]

    The research presented in the article might be sound for monogamous primates, but that group of animals does not include humans.

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