Interview with Ornithologist Richard Prum: What Duck Sex Reveals about Human Nature - SPIEGEL ONLINE - International
july 2017 by aries1988
bird sex human animal evolution interview opinion research duck penis
Prum: To understand this, you have to consider the evolutionary mechanisms involved: If the female gets the mate she likes, then her offspring will inherit the green head and the quack-quack-quack, all those displays that she likes so much. And since all other females have coevolved to prefer those same traits, her sons will be very successful and she will have lots of grandchildren from him. But if she's fertilized by force, then some random male will father her kids, which means that her offspring are less likely to inherit the attractive traits that she and other females like. That means fewer grandkids. Therefore, evolution will favor any mutation that allows her to get her own choice -- for example by protecting her vagina against forced sex.
Unlike ducks, 97 percent of birds cannot be forcibly fertilized, because the males don't have a penis. Copulation in most birds is achieved by a cloacal kiss, just an apposition (or touching) of orifices. So, to be fertilized, the female has to actively take up the sperm, which means that she retains full control of her sexual choice. By the way, I think this is the essential reason why birds are so beautiful. Since they have the freedom of choice, females exhibit aesthetic preferences. And, as a result of these preferences, males developed amazingly elaborate ornaments.
SPIEGEL: You are suggesting that women were attracted to small teeth?
Prum: Yeah, and I even think that this is where our smile comes from. It is a sexual symbol advertising one's state of de-weaponization.
SPIEGEL: And females made them give up this bad habit by choosing more good-natured males?
Prum: Yes. Solving the infanticide problem was the biggest hurdle in human evolution. Infanticide is the single largest source of infant mortality in gorillas and chimpanzees. Approximately 30 percent of all infant deaths are the result of infanticide by males. On the other hand, everything that is special about human biology requires greater investment in longer childhoods -- whether it's complex cognition, language, culture or technology. None of that could possibly have evolved if a large portion of babies are being murdered by sexual violence.
july 2017 by aries1988
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