Re: Social evolution of hominids
18 Jan 1997 17:25:18 +0200 wrote:

[about list of negative evidence of monogamous behaviour]

> This could also suggest that this trait could have arisen and then
> went "extinct" many times in hominid evolution.

Yes, I had considered social - expecially sexual - structures to be
more stabile. It became clear to me while 'thinking aloud' that
they may change rapidly, expecially the culturally based forms. The
spectrum of forms among apes hint that they can change easily even if
they are based on inborn behaviour. The linkage to economy in humans
should have warned, bad economy is rapidly punished.

What comes to the 'monogamy-genes', just because I do not know
any inborn trait of humans which would confirm marriages stay for all
life, I think there does not exist any. Gibbons, instead, are hardly
pushed by religion to stay together.

> Actually, history shows that in certain cultures, when men possess
> most of the influence in a society, polygamy can also be socially-
> accepted.

Debra Mckay had to stick me in my eye before I realized, which I have
known all time, that male polygamy, not monogamy, has been the most
common strategy in historical times. I had dropped this solution
away, while getting mixed with the dimorphism of gorillas, for an

The system has been a modification of that of gorillas in a bigger
group. A selection of men have had several women: wives, concubines
and slaves. The problem of extra men was solved in some places by
castrating them - the lists of the servants of old oriental kings
are impressive, with the groupings of 'bearded' and 'castrates'.

In this sense, my list for 'lacking evidence of monogamy' is quite
adequate. <g>

> And when polygamy is practiced in human society, it is ?always one
> man with multiple wives. I am not aware of any historical accounts
> of the reverse being the case. Anyone?

There are a few people in Himalaya, who usually are mentioned in this
connection. I just happened to see a document of one of them in TV a
few months ago. Among inuits, where population had to be controlled
by decreasing the number of women, a woman could have two men.
Economy, again!

> <pb>

Aila Korhonen in Finland