Human evolution theory utilizing concepts of neoteny & female sexual selection
An etiology of neuropsychological disorders such as autism and dyslexia, and the origin of left handedness.

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 Library of Excerpts

Beauty, Romance, Marriage, Divorce and the Evidence of Neoteny and Related Patterns


"The weight of the Miss Americas fall steadily year after year. So does that of Playboy centerfolds. Both categories of women are 15 percent lighter than the average for their ages." (Ridley 1993: 288, The Red Queen)

"A woman can be rendered infertile by a body fat content only 10-15 percent below normal." (Ridley 1993: 288, The Red Queen)

"There is a willingly expressed preference for plump female bodies among tribal people all over the world, and in many subsistence societies, thin women are shunned." (Ridley 1993: 288, The Red Queen)

“Testosterone-dependent secondary sexual characteristics in males may signal immunological competence and are sexually selected for in several species. In humans, oestrogen-dependent characteristics of the female body correlate with health and reproductive fitness and are found attractive. Enhancing the sexual dimorphism of human faces should raise attractiveness by enhancing sex-hormone-related cues to youth and fertility in females, and to dominance and immunocompetence in males. Here we report the results of asking subjects to choose the most attractive faces from continua that enhanced or diminished differences between the average shape of female and male faces. As predicted, subjects preferred feminized to average shapes of a female face. This preference applied across UK and Japanese populations but was stronger for within-population judgements, which indicates that attractiveness cues are learned. Subjects preferred feminized to average or masculinized shapes of a male face. Enhancing masculine facial characteristics increased both perceived dominance and negative attributions (for example, coldness or dishonesty) relevant to relationships and paternal investment. These results indicate a selection pressure that limits sexual dimorphism and encourages neoteny in humans.” (Perrett DI, Lee KJ, Penton-Voak I, Rowland D, Yoshikawa S, Burt DM, Henzi SP, Castles DL, Akamatsu S (1998) Effects of sexual dimorphism on facial attractiveness. Nature 94 (6696): 884-7)

"The principle behind female infanticide, sexual selection, is in evidence today. Western women by: marrying later, following career instead of family if that gives them satisfaction, using contraception and abortion, leaving marriages where they feel unloved before progeny are produced, having children only with men by whom they feel loved; make the selection process more and more tight without having to decrease the relative number of females to males. Advertising extols the visual virtues of the extremely skinny woman, women with such low fat levels that menstruation is compromised, further reducing the number of procreating females. The net result is that the world we are moving into is becoming characterized by far less ferment as the women's cultural criteria for a good man becomes more secure. There will be far more joy. As we pass out of this 5000 year old Indo-european tradition of extreme polarization, women can now again choose a mate based on his ability to evoke feelings of feeling-part-of-something-larger-than-the-self." (Lehman & Bernsten (1999) Evolution and the Structure of Health and Disease. web link)

"That blonde hair on a women has been considered by Europeans more beautiful than brown or black has long been noted. In ancient Rome women dyed their hair blond. In medieval Italy fair hair and great beauty were inseparable. In Britain the words fair and beautiful were synonymous. Blond adult hair may be a sexually selected honest handicap, just like a swallow's tail with streamers. Blond hair in children is a fairly common gene among Europeans (and, curiously, Austalian aborigines). " (Ridley 1993: 2894 The Red Queen)

“In many cultures, however, choice of the first primary mate for a girl is made entirely by the parents and often exclusively by the daughter’s male parent (Levi-Strauss 1969), Daly and Wilson 1978, Symons 1979). The parents’ interests may, but probably will not be coincident with the daughter’s. Thus a parent-offspring conflict (see Trivers 1974) is created that may result in extramarital adventures by dissatisfied daughters.” (Robert L. Smith (1984) Human Sperm Competition. in Sperm Competition and the Evolution of Animal Mating Systems pp. 611)

"Among the known causes, for instance, female athletes and those with anorexia aften fail to menstruate probably because of loss of estradiol producing body fat." (Geschwind & Galaburda 1987: 222, Cerebral Lateralization)

"Edward Westermarck in his early classic A Short History of Marriage (1968: 126-155) discussed consent as a condition for marrige. Females, he noted, most often were married off at the will of some male-father, family elders, uncle. It is to be noted that the male partner in such marriages, also, had little personal choice. However, Westermarck pointed out that females in the simplest hunting and gathering societies could - and did - refuse the assigned mate. Sometimes she could do this directly and in other societies by subtle, indirect action. She lost much of this freedom in technologically more advanced societies. Some of the strongest arguments against male dominant choice of females as sex partners can be found in the statistical, cross-cultural work of George Murdock (1949: 20-21). Out of 241 societies where his criteria could be applied, 163 involved some consideration: bride-price, bride service, or exchange of women. In other words, families made the decisions rather than the individuals involved. Regarding divorce, Murdock (1969: 175-76) found, somewhat surprisingly, that in thirty of forty societies there were no substantial differences in the rights of men and women to terminate a marriage. Only 15 percent actually had the stereotyped view where men controlled the action. If divorce involved equal female choice, isn't it likely that she would have had much to say about the original marriage? Further analysis of mating practices in primitive society raises more questions as to male choice selecting for spedific traits. Murdock's worldwide sample of 25o societies (1949:263) showed that only three had a generalized sex taboo. Most of the others allowed premarital sex, extra-marital sex, wife-lending, etc., all of which could be involved in pregnancy with someone other than the social father." (Smith, James M. (1976) Sexual selection in recent human populations. California Anthropologist 6 (1): pp. 20)

"Love stories, myths, legends, poems, songs, instruction manuals, love potions, love charms, lovers' quarrels, trysts, elopements, and suicides are part of life in traditional societies around the world. In fact, in a survey of 168 cultures, anthropologists William Jankoviak, and Edward Fisher were able to find direct evidence for the existence of romantic love in 87 percent of these vastly different peoples." (Fisher, H. (1992) Anatomy of Love: The Mysteries of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1992. pp. 50)

"First of all, divorce is common in societies where women and men both own land, animals, currency, information, and / or other valued goods or resources and where both have the right to distribute or exchange their personal riches beyond the immediate family circle." (Fisher, H. (1992) Anatomy of Love: The Mysteries of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1992. pp. 103)

"Divorce rates are much lower where spouses are dependent on each other to make ends meet. The most notable correlation between economic dependence and low divorce rates is seen in preindustrial Europe and in all other societies that use the plow for agriculture--such as India and China. Some people trace this low divorce rate among historical Christian Europeans to religious causes--for understandable reasons. Jusus forbade divorce. And as I have mentioned, by the eleventh century A.D. Christian marriage had become a sacrament; divorce was impossible for Christians. But culture often complements nature's laws, and the low divorce rates seen in preindustrial European societies were also due to an inescapable ecological reality: farming couples needed each other to survive. . .... More important, whoever elected to leave the marriage left empty-handed. Neither spouse could dig up half the wheat and relocate." (Fisher, H. (1992) Anatomy of Love: The Mysteries of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1992. pp. 106)

[citations removed] "But why did these early pair-bonds need to be permanent? Perhaps like foxes and robins, our ancestors only needed to form pair-bonds long enough to rear their young through infancy. what made me think of this was a remarkable correlation between the length of human infancy in traditional societies, about four years, and the length of many marriages, about four years. Among the traditional !Kung, mothers hold their infants near their skin, breast-feed regularly through the day and night, nurse on demand, and offer their breasts as pacifiers. As a result of this constant body contact and nipple stimulation, as well as high levels of exercise and a low-fat diet, ovulation is suppressed and the ability to become pregnant is postponed for about three years. Hence !Kung births are about four years apart. Four years is the usual period between successive births among continually breast-feeding Australian aborigenes and the Gainj of New Guinea. Infants are generally also weaned around the fourth year among the Yanomamo of Amazonia, the Netsilik Eskimos, the Lepcha of Sikkim, and the Dani of New Guinea. Although birth spacing varies among populations of hunter-gatherers, and maternal age and number of children previously born to a woman affect birth intervals, these data have led anthropologist Jame Lancaster and others to conclude that a four-year pattern of continual nursing through the day and night--was the regular pattern of birth spacing during our long evolutionary past. Thus the modern worldwide divorce peak--about four years--conforms to the traditional period between human successive births--four years. So here is my theory. Like pair-bonding in foxes, robins, and many other species that mate only through a breeding season, human pair-bonds originally evolved to last only long enough to raise a single dependent child through infancy, the first four years, unless a second infant was conceived." (Fisher, H. (1992) Anatomy of Love: The Mysteries of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1992. pp. 153-4)

"...between 1960 and 1983 the number of working women doubled. Between 1966 and 1976 the divorce rate doubled too. And in 1981 remarriage rates hit a modern high. After many centuries of permanent monogamy among our farmer forebares, the primitive human pattern of marriage, divorce, and remarriage had emerged again." (Fisher, H. (1992) Anatomy of Love: The Mysteries of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1992. pp. 296)

[quote from Gowaty, 1992, p. 231-240] "Juvenilization decreases the threat some men may feel when confronted with women; many men are comfortable around women whom they can clearly dominate and are profoundly uncomfortable around women whom they cannot so clearly dominant. The hypothesis that femininity signals ability to be dominated through juvenilization is an alternative to, but not necessarily mutually exclusive of, other evolutionary hypotheses that posit that femininity signals, sometimes deceptively, reproductive value and fertility." (Jones, Doug (1995) Sexual selection, physical attractiveness, and facial neoteny: cross-cultural evidence and implications. Current Anthropology 36 (5): pp. 727)


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