Re: Social evolution of hominids

Susan S. Chin (
Sat, 18 Jan 1997 05:42:29 GMT

: wrote:
: > What is your basis for this recent acquisition of monogamous behavior? wrote:
: Without a weighed order:
: - presence of separate promiscuous cultures.

Are you suggesting that these separate promiscuous (however you define
the term) cultures are evolutionarily behind those cultures where
monogamy is practiced? That is certainly the implication if this is your
basis for monogamy as a recent human behavioral phenomena.

: - staggering performance of human monogamy in normal life throughout
: the world.

Just because monogamy isn't as successful as one would idealize, does this
mean it is a recent behavior? Why did it ever develop at all if it's not
"successful" as a reproductive strategy? And if non-monogamy is so
successful, why didn't we just remain that way? In your scenario, those
are the implications in any case.

: - scarcity of genetically fixed traits to support monogamy. The
: lasting for a year or more of 'fall in love' is definitely a tendency
: towards genetically fixed monogamy. It just has not been finished.

I'm sorry, but I just don't understand where you get this idea of "fixed
monogamy." Nobody has ever said it is "natural" in an evolutionary sense
to have only one mate for life, THAT is why monogamy isn't always
successful. But it would allow for certain reporductive strategies which
were not adopted by the other apes, apparently.

Please explain what you mean by a "genetically fixed trait," citing
sources. I have never come across this idea of behavior=gene correlation.

: - elaborate cultural network of taboos and customs which has
been : raised in every culture to support monogamy.
: - collapse of monogamy, where cultural demands weaken.

see above for why these arguments don't hold...

: - economy-linked polarity of sexual relations in primitive cultures.
: Where women provide much of living, promiscuity prevails, where most
: food comes from men, monogamy, in general. This is logical: men
: watching after their investments, but it could be as logical where
: women earn the living. Why any promiscuity, then, if it was not a
: relic from a time where it had other functions.

Under Lovejoy's model, it is the male providing for both the female and
his offspring. Possible only through monogamous pair bonds. At what point
in human evolution do you think females controlled the sources of living?
and had the economic power that you mention?

: - obvious importance of economy in marriages in all world. Properties
: marry, as did kingdoms.

We are talking about the ORIGIN of monogamy, as you recall. Why would
marriage even enter into this? Australopithecine Marriages?

I wrote:
: > I would also hesitate to call any human behavior as "fixed" at any lev
: > of genetics. What I said earlier, that the XX chromosome and correlati
: > to less promiscuous sexual behavior, is an empirical observation. Ther
: > are always the exceptions, it therefore isn't "fixed" but rather the
: > behavior does seemingly have a high correlation to individuals with th
: > XX chromosome.
: >
: > Why don't you think the argument holds? Just because something is
: > culturally based and influences our behavior, does not mean that this
: > behavior doesn't also have a genetic or biological component to it.
: snippety
: > Another example Sarich used was the comparison of mating behavior of
: > homosexuals, of gay men and lesbian relationships. Promiscuous sexual
: > activity (esp. pre-AIDS period) predominated in male homosexual
: > relationships. Monogamy on the whole largely predominated in lesbian
: > relationships. What does this suggest?

your response:
: Let's go to the basics. A hundred adult men and a hundred adult
: women make a population. The men are promiscuous, the women are not.
: With whom do the men have that promiscuous sex? Where is the
: evolutional advantage of them being promiscuous, when the trait
: can never establish itself? What mind is in such a strategy and
: what would support it in this kind of society? And how did it
: spread into the male population?

I think you are confusing behavior with biology. Biologically there is a
definite evolutionary advantage for a male of any species to be
promiscuous. It is a very basic strategy for males, since the investment
in reproduction isn't anywhere near that of the female, who bear the
young and often cares for it long after the male has departed (this
relates to many animal species, not necessarily humans or our ancestors).

As far as actual promiscuity in human males, a distinction should also be
made between promiscuous *tendencies* versue actual promiscuous
*behavior.* What this translates into is: just because a human male wants
sex, doesn't mean he'll get it.

Also, in your example of 100 males, 100 females, the solution is fairly
simple. The 100 males mate with say, 5 or 6 promiscuous females. Or
rather, those 100 males attempt to mate with those.... females. Sexual
behavior isn't "fixed" so there is no reason why in a monogamous society
females cannot be promiscuous, nor any reason why males have to be.

: For promiscuity to be the smarter strategy for a man, he has to have
: more progeny than is his share. Promiscuous women are needed, for
: only they can provide the extra progeny. Since these women mate more
: often to promiscuous men, their progeny gets advantage of the male
: trait (since it is smarter). This means, that male promiscuity tends
: to increase female promiscuity and, when in balance, the whole
: population will be promiscuous.

If your position is that promiscuous behavior is the ancestral one, and
monogamy is a recent phenomena, why are you trying to justify or
establish the presence of such an ancient trait and it's evolutionary
advantage? If it works, why did humans change to monogamy only recently?

: Now you say that promiscuity is a smarter strategy for a man in our
: society. There must be promiscuous women to support this strategy.
: You also say that there is an XX-linked monogamous tendency. That
: means, that our population is not in balance, with both of these two
: competing female traits present. You say that women probably gain
: from monogamy. Then it is obviously the genetically determined
: (XX-linked) monogamous tendency which is replacing promiscuity among
: women, and our society as a whole drifts away from promiscuity.

I think there is a distinct difference between what is biologically the
present state in males versus what is a smarter strategy reproductively.
The natural tendency or the biologically driven tendency isn't toward
monogamy in males, IMO, but monogamy *is* the better reproductive
strategy, especially for early hominids...the cooperation between a male
and female in raising offspring could have been the advantage our
ancestors had over the apes.... I'm not saying it *is* but it is

Also you are misreading what I've said about the XX chromosome. The link
between the XX chromosome is NOT to a monogamous tendency, but rather toward
less promiscuous tendencies compared to XY. There is a difference
and I hope this distinction is
appreciated. There is no known biological link for monogamous behavior
that I know of... so please, don't assume that there is unless you can
show us where this genetic link is to be found.

: A female chimp is in heat as soon as it is possible after her
: pregnancy and lactation. She reproduces quite as often as it is
: physiologically possible for her, as does any female of any species,
: exept women of the western cultures. There is just heat, pregnancy
: and lactation in her life. What period would you shorten to space
: childbirths closer?

Childrearing of the chimp offspring without the aid of its biological
father ... which couldn't be determined without DNA testing in any case
given their mating behavior.