Re: "Family"

Julian O'Dea (jodea@MAILHOST.DPIE.GOV.AU)
Fri, 19 Jul 1996 12:22:03 +1000

Dwight W Read, I think, wrote:

>Note that whereas male can be ambiguous at the biological level (he provides
>sperm, but outside of pair bonding or male controlled primate harems his
>connectedness to offspring is unknown, hence natural selection cannot
>"select for" male parenting (with this statement to be qualified by what we
>are finding out about alternative ways in which the biological connection
>between male and offspring can be identified at a biological level)),

Perhaps I have misunderstood this, but simply because absolute certainty
about paternity is not available one cannot argue that natural selection
cannot select for male parenting.

If one takes the case of birds, there is quite a lot of cuckolding going on
(as evidenced by DNA tests of offspring I think) but there is also male
parenting surely. What the male strategy seems to be is twofold a) try to
ensure you really are the daddy and b) try to ensure that the kids survive.
Hanging around being a father might be a good strategy from both points of

The fact is that, as I can personally attest, men can parent pretty well in
most respects. I was very struck by the descriptions of the behaviour of
Yanomamo fathers in a work on human ethology by Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfelt.
These fierce, "macho" warriors are very affectionate towards their
children. This sort of observation makes me doubt if there is anything at
all "secondary" about paternal interest in children. (Julian O'Dea)