Re: Social evolution of hominids

debra mckay (
Thu, 9 Jan 1997 18:52:15 GMT wrote:
>I believe that something like has happened in the chimp line.
>Male chimps are less hierarchic and bonobo females are continuously
>receptive with promiscuous sex. This does not tell which trait came
>first, but we know that such solution does exist in the ape line.
>Tight pairs, instead, do not appear before Homo s., if not some
>monkeys have such organization?

I'm not sure I know what you mean by "tight pairs". If you mean
monogamous, then gibbons are the *only* monogamous ape in the sense
of a lifelong pairbond between a male and a female.

>If the bonobo strategy was chosen by the pre-hominids millions of
>years ago is another thing, but then there are the !kung san.
>That means, that this strategy does exist in the hominid line, too,
>and the position of the !kung san in our species excites imagination.
>There are relatively loose pair bonds in other primitive (and less
>primitive :) cultures, where women earn considerable portions of
>the living, and relatively free sex in south of Saharan African
>cultures in general. Male polygamy is common throughout the human
>kind, but women don't resist female polygamy where it occurs.
>And a woman with a man and a lover is polygamous? Or promiscuous?

I'm a little uncomfortable with your comments on the !kung san and
sub-Saharan Africa in general. The !kung, we should keep in mind,
are *not* a representative of the behaviour or anything else of early
humankind; they are a group of modern people. We must be *extremely*
careful with our use of analogy. As to sub Saharan Africa, my husband and
in-laws would probably dispute your characterization of "free sex": while
I agree that polygamy is probably the normal condition of the human mating
system, sex in those cultures is probably less "free" than we Westerners
characterize ourselves. A woman with more than one husband is polyandry.
Rare, but known.


>I find it difficult to imagine, how the mere hanging around of a
>certain man would specially enhance the care of the children. Since
>the number of men and women is equal, there would always be a man
>hanging around, anyway. And since other women are receptive, too,
>continuous sex would be available for him anywhere.

Yeah, but if he doesn't think the kid is his, what would motivate
him to help look after it? If he thinks it *might* be his, he
may be more inclined to stick around.


> --
>Aila Korhonen in Finland