In discussing human sex roles one usually starts thus:
…because a single egg is more costly to produce than a single sperm, the number of offspring produced by female animals is limited by the number of eggs that she can produce, while the number of offspring produced by male animals is limited by the number of mating partners.
And then usually this is thrown in as well:
…male animals are competitive and promiscuous while female animals are non-competitive and choosy.
PhysOrg.Com is reporting on research in Trends in Ecology and Evolution that indicates that the situation is a little bit more complex than that:
Dr Brown said, “While male reproductive success varied more than female reproductive success overall, huge variability was found between populations; for instance, in monogamous societies, variances in male and female reproductive success were very similar.”
The researchers argue that evolutionary theory can help us to understand this variability between populations.
“Recent advances in evolutionary theory suggest that factors such as sex-biased mortality, sex-ratio, population density and variation in mate quality, are likely to impact mating behaviour in humans,” said Dr Brown.
Dr Brown and colleagues concluded that the diversity in human mating strategies suggests that a single universal principle is unlikely to fully describe human behaviour.
I’m not surprised, I’ve always thought “promiscuous males” vs “choosy females” was a grossly oversimplified dichotomy…
Filed under: Biological Anthropology