In the state of nature, people were generally polygamous, as are most animals. With many animals, the male leaves the female soon after mating and long before any offspring are born.
According to genetic studies, it is only relatively recently, about 10,000 years ago, that monogamy began to prevail over polygamy in human populations. Monogamous unions may have developed in tandem with sedentary agriculture, helping to preserve land and property within the same narrow kin group.
Polygamy may enable a man to sire more offspring, but monogamy can, in certain circumstances, represent a more successful overall reproductive strategy. In particular, by guarding a single female, a male can ensure that the female’s offspring are also his, and prevent the infants from being killed by male rivals intent on returning the female to fertility.
Historically and still today, most cultures that permit polygamy permit polygyny (a man taking two or more …
Science has yet to definitively pronounce on whether humans are naturally monogamous (lifelong male-female breeding pair) or polygamous (single male breeding with more than one female). The human male body provides ambiguous clues to the answer but the balance of evidence indicates that we are biologically inclined towards monogamy while retaining an urge to “sleep around”. A nicely written summary of this field was written by David Engber in Slate – published on October 9th, 2012.
Consider testicle size as an indicator of mating habits. Male chimpanzees compete with each other to have sex with as many female chimps as possible. A female chimp’s uterus at any given time will contain sperm from several males. If any particular male is to have a chance of impregnating a female, he must ejaculate lots of sperm many times a day and this calls for big cojones. Chimp testicles routinely weigh 150 …
In this day and age, many people have different ideas about relationships and which type of relationships are right for them. This dynamic is especially applicable to romantic relationships. In Western culture, monogamy and polygamy are the two most common types of unions. Monogamy is officially defined as “the practice or state of having a sexual relationship with only one partner” while polygamy is established as “the state of having more than one mate at one time.” In most of society, monogamy is regarded favorably, while polygamy is often judged.
Many individuals have asked themselves whether or not monogamy is better than polygamy. Other frequent questions about these relationships revolve around what’s right and wrong or good or bad. Ultimately, there is no one answer to any of the questions above. Different partnerships work well for different people. Not everyone is built for monogamous relationships; the same principle also applies …
Want to live a little longer? Get a second wife. New research suggests that men from polygamous cultures outlive those from monogamous ones.
After accounting for socioeconomic differences, men aged over 60 from 140 countries that practice polygamy to varying degrees lived on average 12% longer than men from 49 mostly monogamous nations, says Virpi Lummaa, an ecologist at the University of Sheffield, UK.
Lummaa presented her findings last week at the International Society for Behavioral Ecology’s annual meeting in Ithaca, New York.
Rather than a call to polygamy, the research might solve a long-standing puzzle in human biology: Why do men live so long?
This question only makes sense after asking the same for women, who – unlike nearly all other animals – live long past the menopause.
One answer seems to be a phenomenon called the grandmother effect. For every 10 years a woman survives …