Made a point of putting off the pop science Valentine’s day drivel. But here’s a piece rolling through. From the BBC: Infanticide has been the driving force for monogamy for 20 million years
In many primates today, a mother with a dependent infant is unavailable to mate until her infant is weaned. To get access to her, a male would first have to kill her child. This sort of targeted infanticide goes on in many species, including gorillas, monkeys and dolphins.
This led Kit Opie of University College London in the UK and his colleagues, to propose a startling idea. Almost a third of primates form monogamous male-female relationships, and in 2013 Opie suggested that this behaviour had evolved to prevent infanticide.
His team peered back into the family tree of primates to reconstruct how behaviours like mating and parenting changed over the course of evolution. Their analysis suggested that infanticide has been the driving force for monogamy for 20 million years, because it consistently preceded monogamy in evolution.
Don’t like that? Here’s another bit:
Other species found different solutions, which is why not all primates are monogamous. For instance, chimps and bonobos minimise the risk of infanticide by being highly promiscuous. The males do not kill babies because they do not know which are theirs.
But in those species where males and females started bonding strongly, their offspring’s chances of survival improved because the males could help out with parenting. As a result, monogamy was favoured by evolution, says Opie. More.
Other theories are also mooted. It actually doesn’t matter which way it turned out.
Great. On to evolutionary psychology
See also: An evolutionary challenge: explaining away compassion, philanthropy, and self-sacrifice
Human origins: The war of trivial explanations
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