Why are women so pretty?
I have by now presented the bulk of the scientific evidence I have.  When more accumulates, which it has always done, I shall present it.  In the meantime I am going to talk about other subjects.  This is to help you understand how many ways the genetic limit on population size affects us, not to prove the case; proof requires evidence such as you already have.  These subjects do not lend themselves to that.  So here we leave off talking about scientific issues and begin “romantic issues.”  Other kinds of issues will follow.

One of the conspicuous things about humans is that women are so pretty.  It is not just prejudice on my part, although I have always been smitten by them out of all reason.  I never met a woman I did not like.  Animals seem much to prefer women to men.  Horses are much more eager to please women than to please men.  I have been told that is because they are more confident that a woman will not strike them, and that may be true or not.  The question is why?  If the horse is not recognizing her as a female then the horse is recognizing a likely friend.  So for what reason, genetic or otherwise, are women nicer, at least to horses?

I have seen turtles, stingrays and manatee ignore me and then make perfect fools of themselves over a woman. 

I was visiting a woman once late in the afternoon, and she said she was going to feed the turtles in the pond behind her house.  I wandered out and looked at the pond.  There was a steep bank about a foot and a half high that they could not climb.  At any one time there would be a turtle head or two sticking out of the water. She came out with the food and pop, pop, pop there were turtle heads coming up all over the pond.  Evidently a signal had passed.  In less time than they could have walked the distance they were swarming at the bank at her feet.  She tossed the bits of food to them, taking care not to let it fall to the seagulls, which were also taking an interest.  It wasn’t just the food.  A number were trying to scramble up the bank, giving up a chance for food just to try to be near her.  To every appearance, they liked her. 

I was in an amusement park where you could feed stingrays.  You bought a little cardboard tray of food and took it to the tank with the animals.  We were told to put a bit of food in a palm and lower the back of the hand to the bottom of the tank so they could swim over to feed.  So the did.  Their manner with me was rather casual.  Their body language was a weary, “Yeah, right, gimme the grub.”  It was fun enough, but there was a woman feeding them at the other end of the tank.  They were swarming. She would take a morsel and toss it, flinching at a distance of four feet.  My impression was that they were literally piling up to be as close to her as they could. 

A friend one brought his eight or ten year old daughter and a classmate over to go swimming.  I had in the pool area a very old iguana.  The girls were having fun running off the diving board.  After a time, the iguana marched over to the board and jumped off the end, too.  In all the years I had the lizard that never happened another time. 


A woman and I had once taken a canoe up to a spring where there were reported to be manatee.  They gathered at her end of the canoe, one even gently rubbing against our hull.  They gazed as if they could not get enough of her.  She was an authentic beauty, certainly, but looked nothing like a sea cow.  Then bubbles rose right below her elbow.  A fossil conch shell bobbed up in the water.  The animal had gone down and blown air into it and floated it.  If that was not a gift, I am eager to hear an alternative theory. 

What do they recognize?  Physical looks, body language or personality?  Certainly women put a lot of effort into displaying all three.  Is it inherited or learned?  I don’t care.  It puzzles me. 

I will be rash enough to offer a mechanism.  Maybe it is the ever popular curve of a woman’s waist.  It is reminiscent of the shape of the earliest chordate fossil discovered in shale in Canada.  The little wormy thing has a tush.  Then the same form vanishes from the pre Cambrian until the human woman.  Perhaps all vertebrates somehow remember the curve as really attractive, and nothing but a women has the shape.  Go ahead.  Try to figure out a way to test that one scientifically.  Did I mention the helminthic wiggle?

The enigma is that women do the bulk of the work bearing and bringing up children.  Mostly in the animal kingdom, that means it is up to the other sex to do all the courting and looking sharp.  

I can come up with two possible reasons why women are so attractive.  Both are based on the understanding that the fertility crisis that is laying waste to the developed world now and within a couple generations the whole world, the crisis is nothing new.  We have been hammered by this throughout civilization and almost certainly since long before.  Populations got too big and too united for their genes to retain their effectiveness in fertility. 
One possible mechanism would be Haldane’s Law, which when applied to mammals predicts that when animals are cross bred and some of the offspring are infertile, that it is the males that will be infertile.  Assuming that hybrid infertility and the limit of population size are caused by the same genetic changes, then as a population begins to die, the women are still fertile, but only the older men are.  So she is taught or engineered, as it were, to find a capable male, which would mean an old one, and persuade him that sex would be a really good idea. 

The theory founders on the fact that the Iceland study found no differences between males and females in their fertility for any given degree of relatedness of their parents.  Evidence may appear some day, but we do not yet have it.  The fact that sperm counts are falling and male development is less than it used to be is interesting, but if more women are dying in childbirth, then the damage may be balanced. 

The other notion follows much the same logic.  Childbirth is so strenuous that younger women are better at it than older women, even older women who are fit enough to best a younger woman in a physical contest.  But males can maintain their fertility longer.  It used to be said that a healthy male from puberty onward never suffers a decline in his sperm count.  That has recently been challenged, but it is beyond question that males stay fertile longer, longer than would be expected.  If people mate young and are monogamous, then a sixty year old male should have no expectation of children and evolution should have no reason to maintain his sperm count. 

But if the population is dying, as we are now, then by finding a male who is decades older to marry a woman is able at least partly to set the clock back.  She can have children by a male whose chromosomes have not been trashed to the same degree as those of her age mates.  It is those women who find older husbands who will have the better chance of healthy children to whom to pass their own genes and their own attitudes. 

You hear that girls?  Codgers are sexy.  Go after them. 

I feel obliged to mention something I have said before.  If you look at the effective population size of males across a wide spectrum of life forms as shown in the posting of July 10, 2008, as animals get more “advanced” (I am not quite comfortable with that term, but you know what I mean.  Mammals are more advanced than crawfish.)  the effective population size of the males decreases.  At the same time, the effective population size overall, at least as measured by mitochondrial DNA increases.  More importantly, but getting males out of the gene pool, the population size can support more genetic resource.  Soo, maybe women are so attractive because they need to drive men to kill themselves or each other to tidy up the gene pool.

All right, I said it.  I don’t like it. Since it is not the only explanation I will not believe it.  But I point it out. 

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