Re: Breasts

Richard Ottolini (stgprao@sugarland.unocal.COM)
31 Oct 1995 13:28:44 GMT

In article <472s6s$>,
Richard Carnes <> wrote:
>"katherine a. dettwyler" <> writes:
>This fact has very little significance for the present question. The
>human life cycle is *highly* unusual, even among the apes, our closest
>relatives. Our unusual if not unique features include the following:
>our sexual activity is essentially independent of an estrus cycle;
>females undergo a menopause; copulation generally occurs in secluded
>places; males have relatively huge penes (any man suffering from an
>inferiority complex in this regard should note that the erect gorilla
>penis averages 1-1/4 inches in length); parents continue to bring food
>to children after weaning; most fathers are closely involved in caring
>for their children; we live in breeding colonies of (generally)
>monogamous pairs; and individuals living 70 years or more are not
>uncommon even in hunter-gatherer societies. Accordingly it is
>dangerous to extrapolate from other mammals to humans; if breasts play
>a role in human sexuality, this would probably be related to our other
>very unusual characteristics. In addition, many instances are known
>of an organ's acquiring a new function in the course of evolutionary

It is the sum collection of these attributes that is unique for humans.
Otherwise, I believe you can find most of the above mentioned in some
primate species. Chimps and bonobos are every more promiscuous than
humans. Both have large testicles. Bonobo females are receptive during
non-esterus. They have frontal intercourse sometimes. Chimps can live
60 years or longer. Tarzan's Cheta is in his late 50s somewhere in Palm
Springs. Chimp children retain ties to their mothers past adulthood.
Gorilla families remain stable for long times. See (Oct?) 1994 Scientific
American for a related discussion.
However, I do not know another primate with permanently enlarged female breasts.