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Evolutionary biologists still puzzled over human breasts


Among primates, only humans have them, including the idea that they act as baby handlebars or energy reserves but claims about sexual selection attract the most attention and seem to have been exhaustively tested. The result?

Men’s preferences seem influenced by number of factors, including: culture (says one study, “Brazilians preferred larger breasts and buttocks than Czechs”), socio-economic status (larger breasts for lower status men), sexual habits, (larger for men in short-term, non-committal relationships), body image, (larger for men who rated themselves more attractive), sexist attitudes (larger for men hostile toward women) and even hunger (hungry British men liked bigger breasts than fed participants). And some experiments focused on other qualities than size, such as how perky or symmetrical breasts are.Bridget Alex, “Scientists Still Stumped By The Evolution of Human Breasts” at Discover Magazine

It wouldn’t be easy to derive a principle of biology from all these studies except that breasts matter. (And we don’t know why.) It’s reminiscent of the many theories that have evolved to explain the fact that humans are fully bipedal. See, for example, a number of theories mentioned in Bipedalism: Regulatory area missing in humans?:

There is a “uniquely human” way of walking upright and there’s no shortage of theses as to why: carrying infants or scarce resources, and saving energy strut the stage. Or it is due to climate change or rough terrain? Don’t assume a “chimpanzee starting point,” counsels one expert. News, Uncommon Descent

How about this: Breasts and bipedalism both evolved to create a market for theories.

Okay, okay, but how much worse is that than some of the other theories?

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See also: Human evolution: The war of trivial explanations

OK, and now what about the human nose? Why do we have a proboscis? (other than to hold up our glasses, of course.) Fasteddious
I will make a testable prediction here: Scientists will continue to study this subject into the distant future, even after some pretty good theories have taken root. This will be done "just in case" they missed something, because they won't want to take chances. This is too important of a subject to not explore fully... EDTA
Chapter IV of prominent geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti's book Why is a Fly Not a Horse? is titled "Wobbling Stability". In that chapter he discusses that populations oscillate and the sustaining factor is sexual selection and reproduction. The following is what he has to say which is based on thorough scientific investigation:
Sexuality has brought joy to the world, to the world of the wild beasts, and to the world of flowers, but it has brought an end to evolution. In the lineages of living beings, whenever absent-minded Venus has taken the upper hand, forms have forgotten to make progress. It is only the husbandman that has improved strains, and he has done so by bullying, enslaving, and segregating. All these methods, of course, have made for sad, alienated animals, but they have not resulted in new species. Left to themselves, domesticated breeds would either die out or revert to the wild state—scarcely a commendable model for nature’s progress.
(snip a few paragraphs on peppered moths)
Natural Selection, which indeed occurs in nature (as Bishop Wilberforce, too, was perfectly aware), mainly has the effect of maintaining equilibrium and stability. It eliminates all those that dare depart from the type—the eccentrics and the adventurers and the marginal sort. It is ever adjusting populations, but it does so in each case by bringing them back to the norm. We read in the textbooks that, when environmental conditions change, the selection process may produce a shift in a population’s mean values, by a process known as adaptation. If the climate turns very cold, the cold-adapted beings are favored relative to others.; if it becomes windy, the wind blows away those that are most exposed; if an illness breaks out, those in questionable health will be lost. But all these artful guiles serve their purpose only until the clouds blow away. The species, in fact, is an organic entity, a typical form, which may deviate only to return to the furrow of its destiny; it may wander from the band only to find its proper place by returning to the gang. Everything that disassembles, upsets proportions or becomes distorted in any way is sooner or later brought back to the type. There has been a tendency to confuse fleeting adjustments with grand destinies, minor shrewdness with signs of the times. It is true that species may lose something on the way—the mole its eyes, say, and the succulent plant its leaves, never to recover them again. But here we are dealing with unhappy, mutilated species, at the margins of their area of distribution—the extreme and the specialized. These are species with no future; they are not pioneers, but prisoners in nature’s penitentiary.
The point being, that IF it were left to direct scientific observations, evolutionism fails miserably and all that is left is wishful thinking supported by speculation. Dr. Sermonti knows the scientific evidence supports limited descent with modification. ET
"Breasts and bipedalism both evolved" Um, no. The breasts, which are PERFECTLY located for new mom to cuddle her new offspring in the crook of her left arm whilst she goes about picking berries with her right, were DESIGNED AND INSTALLED as part of the first production models. How was she supposed to cuddle her baby if her breasts had been installed just above her hips? Also, newborn baby humans come with eyes EXACTLY focused for the distance between the nursing infant's head and his or her mother's face. And so mom gazes down at Junior and smiles, and Junior stares up at mom, believing that she is the Whole World because that's all he can see. Baby humans do come with the patented Monkey Grip fingers, but of course mom lacks the body hair to grab onto. So mom, and dad and Uncle Joe and Aunt Judy, offer single fingers for the baby to grab and hold with his whole tiny hand. And the adults smile at this natural physical link with newest member of their manpack. vmahuna

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