Re: Social evolution of hominids

Susan S. Chin (
Mon, 6 Jan 1997 05:19:45 GMT

Ian Pennington ( wrote:

: > >I understand that the continuous sexual activity of human females
: > >was not the original situation. This behaviour obviously appeared
: > >after the times of the common ancestor of apes and us, since the
: > >apes have restricted heat times, as do most mammals.
: >
: What survivability benefits accruee to h sapiens by having the female being
: capable of continuous sexual activity? A few quesions come to mind:

: 1. humans take a long time to reach sexual maturity and the capacity to
: generate another generation of offspring. Prior to that maturity, humans
: consume a lot of resources, cannot offer much to survival of the community,
: and face longer odds in surviving to adulthood (a reasonable assumption,
: since they remain infants for so long). Combine that with a fairly long
: gestation period, and its seems that continous sexual activity is necessary
: to offset the span between successive genrations.

The loss of estrus, the period of sexual receptivity in non-human primates,
lead to continuous sexual activity in human females, who were now without
obvious "signs" of female fertility. The benefit of continuous sexual
receptivity in human females, according to Owen Lovejoy, is to ensure
that the male stays with the female, even during periods when she's not
fertile (ovulating). This was accomplished by hidden estrus, since
fertility is not evident...sexual activity is continuous. Well, that is
his theory anyway.