Evolution of Polygamous Marriage - Paper Example

Published: 2021-08-11
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Wesleyan University
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Presented to Refute or go Against the Argument? Are there any Scholarly

References given on the Blog?The primary purpose of Waterflows blog post is to lay out the ideas of Christopher Ryan, a co-author of the book Sex at Dawn, and a PhD. holder in psychology. Ryan argues that human beings of both sexes are naturally promiscuous and not monogamous and faithful, as they have been made to believe. He says that when it comes to being faithful and monogamous, there is no difference in males and females. Ryan posits that while monogamy has been accepted as a right way of life in many societies, today and cultures are made to believe that being faithful is natural; our primal urges are to be promiscuous (Waterflow, 2013). Ryan further argues that humans are genetically related to chimps and bonobos just as they are to any other primate, and therefore the sexual natures are also similar. Waterflows article points out that bonobos are famous for their sexual promiscuity and like humans, they have external testicles and engage in copulation looking at each other. Another idea is that similarly human, chimps, and bonobos do not just use sex for reproductive purposes but also for bonding (Waterflow, 2013). To refute monogamy and faithfulness, Ryan says that chimps and bonobos do not restrict their bonding to just one partner, as many humans have been encouraged to do. Ryan concludes that monogamy is not hardwired in either men or women (Waterflow, 2013). In the blog, there is no evidence or argument presented to go against the claims submitted by Ryan. Waterflow fails to mention and incorporate works from scholarly articles to support Ryans argument that monogamy is not hardwired in human beings. For this case, the blog was written to provide the notion that human beings are promiscuous and not monogamous.

The Mating System of Chimpanzees. Remember to include how the Dominance Hierarchy, Feeding Ecology, and Male Aggression affect the Relative Reproductive Success.

Chimpanzees have a complex mating system with both males and females using many tactics. Adult females who are sexually active undergo estrous periods of sexual swellings, which are about thirty-two to thirty-six. Copulation rates are higher when their swellings are full (Watts, 2015). Male interest in fully swollen females is higher and high-ranking males who dominate mate at higher rates. The higher-ranking males sometimes try to prevent females from mating with other males present, which is called mate guarding. Males also try to persuade females to go on cohorts and during this period, they try to avoid other males from mating with the females. The higher- ranking males increase their mating success by using aggression to increase their chances of mating and achieve higher paternity success. The argument that human beings and chimpanzees are sexually similar is refuted significantly. Female chimpanzees have periods of swellings, which is absent in female human beings. The mating rates of chimpanzees are high during the periods of full swelling than in other periods. Human beings on the other side can have sex in their chosen time. Surviving in a cohort under the protection of males enables the group to search for food together, and this creates a bond, which increases the chances of the males to copulate with the female chimps. Therefore, the chances of reproductive success are higher when the males and female survive in a group.

Mating System of Bonobos.Males in multi-male societies of bonobos compete for mating opportunities with fertile females to maximize reproductive success. The high ranking males can restrict other males access to fertile females. Therefore, these dominant males account for the larger number of matings than the minor ones. Mother- son associations are high among bonobos and enhance their sons proximity to mating success with estrous females by allowing them to interact with other estrous females (Surbeck, Mundry & Hohmann, 2010). This potential only increases when the male sons are traveling or living in the presence of their mothers. However, a larger proportion of mating performance still reflects dominance status rather than maternal support. In the absence of maternal support, the low-ranking bonobos have low chances of mating compared to the high-ranking ones who are aggressive in the competition to win mating chances with estrous females (Surbeck et al., 2010).

In this critical analysis, the argument of the media blog that human sexual behaviors are similar to those of bonobos is opposed significantly. Mother-son relationships are also present in human beings. Sexual behavior in human beings is also not based on higher ranking dominating the fertile women but on female choice.

The Role of Testosterone Levels on Chimpanzee Mating Strategy.Chimpanzees experience age-related changes in urinary testosterone levels. Both female and male chimpanzees experience these changes. Older chimpanzees of both sexes have significantly higher urinary testosterone levels than the younger ones. It indicates the reason why they experience a juvenile pause. Chimpanzees experience a sharp increase in the levels of urinary testosterone levels at the age of eight years (Behringer, Deschner,Deimel, Stevens, & Hohmann, 2014). It suggests the aggression and male mate competition with the rise of the testosterone levels. Female chimpanzees show the same pattern in the increase of urinary testosterone levels (Behringer et al., 2014).

Another scholarly article researched on the relationship of the levels of testosterone and the performance of cognitive tasks showed that higher levels of testosterone in male chimpanzees correlate with higher levels of performance in the physical cognition as well as causality scales. Moreover, among male chimpanzees higher levels of testosterone was directly related to lower levels of the theory of mind performance. Among female chimpanzees, higher levels of testosterone caused more skillful achievement in the attention state task (Wobber & Herrmann, 2015).

The results of another article researching the role of testosterone in chimpanzees indicated that testosterone is positively associated with male sexual behavior. They said that the higher the levels of testosterone, the higher the levels in the interest of males to mate. Furthermore, the authors explained the reason why they are highly ranked in dominance. Testosterone in both male and female bonobos played a role in the mating effort (Onyango, Gesquiere, Altmann & Alberts, 2013).

The evolution of polygamy/ and promiscuity to (serial) monogamy in modern humans.

Modern humans have evolved highly from polygamy to monogamy. Findings in some scholarly articles have explained the reasons. One reason is that there has been spread of human capital increasing labor income. As a result, womens income opportunities have increased. It has reduced the marginal benefit of the economic benefits provided by polygamous unions increasing the cost of polygamous mating for men (Citci, 2014). For this case, men have found it optimal to marry monogamously instead of bearing high cost of polygamous mating (Citci, 2014).

Another article discusses that the stability of marriage practices regarding resources has led to the rise in monogamous marriages. The extent of resource depletion through division is the primary determinant of marriage practice. Stability is based on the maximization of inclusive fitness, strategic behavior, and ecological factors rather than just paternity confidence (Archetti, 2013), which has led to the rise in monogamous marriages to maximize inclusive fitness. Another article discussed that competition among members of one sex for reproductive access to the other is one of the strongest and fastest evolutionary processes. The change in mating systems has resulted from polygamy to monogamy. Sex differences in reproductive success decreased as laws, and religious customs changed in the last half of the nineteenth century, which has resulted to people becoming more monogamous ( Moorad, Promislow, Smith, & Wade, 2011).

What is one Problem with the Method used in one or more of the Studies you used?

The research study by Watts (2015) on the mating of male chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park in Uganda had one problem of focusing on only one region of study and hypothesis. The authors concluded their research based on facts obtained from chimpanzees in Kibale National Park. They would have conducted various research on chimpanzees located in different parts of the continents and national parks to come up with a solid explanation backed up with evidence from this different locations that shows the mating behavior of male chimpanzees.

How is the media blog misleading?

The article by Waterflow (2013), which states that human beings are meant to be promiscuous and not to be monogamous and faithful, is misleading. The blog post compares human beings to chimpanzees and bonobos. It assumes that because chimpanzees and bonobos are closely related to human beings in the evolution theory, their sexual activities are similar. It is also misleading because it assumes since chimpanzees and bonobos are promiscuous, human beings should be promiscuous too. In the reviewed scholarly articles, authors such as Watts (2015) have stated that even high-ranking male chimpanzees and bonobos prevent the females from mating with other males present and also persuade them to go in cohorts where the male chimps avoid their counterparts to mate exclusively with the chosen females. The media blog post is misleading because it says that the nature of human beings is to be promiscuous, yet the fact that human beings are prone to infidelity does not mean that their character is to be promiscuous.


Archetti, M. (2013). Evolution of polygamous marriage by maximization of inclusive fitness. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 319, 134-143. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2012.11.017

Behringer, V., Deschner, T., Deimel, C., Stevens, J., & Hohmann, G. (2014). Age-related changes in urinary testosterone levels suggest differences in puberty onset and divergent life history strategies in bonobos and chimpanzees. Hormones and Behavior, 66(3), 525-533. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2014.07.011

Citci, S. H. (2014). The rise of monogamy. Series, 5(4), 377-397. doi:10.1007/s13209-014-0113-y

Moorad, J. A., Promislow, D. E., Smith, K. R., & Wade, M. J. (2011). Mating system change reduces the strength of sexual selection in an American frontier population of the 19th century. Evolution and Human Behavior, 32(2), 147-155.

Onyango, P. O., Gesquiere, L. R., Altmann, J., & Alberts, S. C. (2013). Testosterone positively associated with both male mating effort and parental behavior in savanna baboons (Papio cynocephalus). Hormones and Behavior, 63(3), 430-436. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2012.11.014

Surbeck, M., Mundry, R., & Hohmann, G. (2010). Mothers matter! Maternal support, dominance status and mating success in male bonobos (Pan paniscus). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278(1705), 590-598. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1572

Waterflow, L. (2013, March 01). Monogamy is not a natural state for men OR women... controversial TED lecturer claims that we are all built to be promiscuous.

Watts, D, P. (2015). Mating behavior of adolescent male chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. Primates, 56, 163-172. DOI 10.1007/s10329-014-0453-z.Wobber, V., & Herrmann, E. (2015). The influence of testosterone on cognitive performance in bonobos and chimpanzees. Behaviour, 152(3-4), 407-423. doi:10.1163/1568539x-00003202.


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