Monogamy forever:
Many years ago it was rather conspicuous in the public mind that men who were very famous, celebraties for one reason or another, were having lots of illegitimate children with lots of different women.  I never saw any solid numbers.  Likely it was all sensationalism.  This was long before I suspected that having children with people not your kin was committing genetic suicide.  It just seemed so unfair.

Then some journal, NATURE I think, published an article in which somebody had compared promiscuous primates with primates that bonded for life.  The promiscuous ones had stronger immune systems.  The title was something like “Advantage of Promiscuity.”  Really.  That’s like saying a crime wave is a good thing because you get a bigger police force.  Obviously there are costs of a strong immune system.  It costs metabolic energy.  It is maintained by selecting out otherwise excellently fit members just because they don’t have the Cadillac immune system.  And it can turn on you, giving rise to autoimmune diseases.  I don’t see the advantage of having one if you don’t need it, and evidently promiscuity needs it.  Humans are subject to over a couple dozen sexually transmitted disorders.  Our highly promiscuous dogs have only one that I have ever heard of.  You have to wonder about wolves.  They’re faithful. 

But the issue somehow vanished, maybe because of the misleading title.  But it’s back.  (Blake Edgar Powers of Two SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN vol. 311 no. 3 September 2014 page 63)  Forgotten is the venereal disease argument, but it is suggested that fidelity is millions of years old in our line and is one of the things that distinguish us from our nearest kin the gorilla and chimpanzee.  And indeed it may be causative of the difference.  They puzzle over how it arose.  Maybe the females scattered out looking for high value food and the males found it better to settle down with just one.  Maybe the males could be persuaded not to kill the babies, as other apes do, if the relationship was permanent.  Maybe he brought her food or helped care for the young. 

It is suggested that maybe he just carried the babies around for her.  Apparently the caloric cost was about the same as the metabolic cost of the pregnancy.  You know I don’t see men carrying babies around much.  I once had a friend who had raised a number of children and grandchildren.  When they presented him with his first great grandchild he refused to take it in his arms.  He said he had spent his whole life taking care of children and if he picked that one up it would own him emotionally for the rest of his few remaining years.  

So there you go.  The promiscuous ones are the losers.  They are not what have survived over the long haul and are not likely to be in the future.  Apes are definitely lower on the food chain than people, and promiscuous men are a behavioral throwback to apes. 

Not, I suppose, that they care.

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