From dating sites to Hollywood films, the human desire to search for ‘the one’ is taken for granted. However, what may seem instinctual could actually be the result of a radical sexual revolution which happened several million years ago.
We’re well familiar with the image of pre-historic man, roaming free and promiscuously mating with any woman they choose – hell, we’re even still liable to meet him on a Saturday night in the wrong part of town. However, at some point behaviours changed and humans began to favour monogamous, romantic pair-bonding, but how that happened still continues to challenge evolutionary theorists. Now, a new study from America aims to offer an explanation.
Conducted by Sergey Gavrilets, a distinguished professor of ecology, evolutionary biology and mathematics at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, the intriguing study uses mathematical theory to come up with scenarios that may have led, millions of years later, to the accepted model of a two-parent family made up of a monogamous partnership. And the best bit of all – it involves food.
Gavrilets’ theory suggests that cunning low-ranking males, rather than compete with the dominance of alpha and beta males in the pack, would instead bring extra food to certain females in order to curry sexual favour. The females in turn responded by remaining faithful to their breadwinning male. By providing food to one female exclusively, the male had more chances to mate with her, while the increased nutrition from the food also helped to keep the female and any offspring alive and well. Sneaky!
However, Gavrilets’ research reveals this was not just a one-sided thing - both male and female choice in this scenario drove evolution: “Female faithfulness increases as a result of males selecting more faithful females, and male provisioning [food giving] grows as females select better providers and they co-evolve in a mutually beneficial way,” remarks Gavrilets in the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
While the study is not conclusive proof of exactly how monogamy evolved, Gavrilets’ work has been highly-commended by evolutionary theorists for helping to shed new light on the subject – and also gives us a better idea of why a successful dinner date could be so integral to finding a mate.
What do you think? Is food the best way to your heart? Tell us your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.
Image credit: Rex