Many conversations have ensued regarding recent studies revealing how monogamy has effected the evolution of certain species. It is remarkable to note that those animals who transitioned from multiple mating partners to monogamy experienced an extension in lifespan due to proximity of the male for protection of offspring. But could the movement toward monogamy have created larger brains in our distant primate relatives as well?
It seems this possibility is very plausible when we look at the evidence for what tends to occur in both animal and human alike, when the man sticks around. In primates, the female is largely responsible for feeding her young while moving from place to place, mating with various males. However, when remaining more localized and keeping the same partner, the male of the species begins to scavenge for meat and other proteins to feed to his youth, which contributes to growth of the brain.
Meats and other fatty proteins, especially fish, contain essential fatty acids which are specific for brain development and have been shown to actually increase the size of the brain in humans and our mammalian friends alike. In fact, it is the very ingestion of more ocean delicacies by those in the maritime regions of the world which is thought to have contributed to the evolution of the human brain and the development of language.
So, as both our animal counterparts as well as the men in our lives, stick around to help provide richer, fattier foods for offspring to ingest, the brain is fed and thereby grows – making for a more intelligent, longer lived species.
These days, women are able to provide fish and rich foods to their kids on their own, in many cases. Though since the very important ‘brain foods’ are more expensive in general, having the help of another partner to supply such goods ensures that everyone is eating the brain-friendly nutrients which contribute to bigger brains and more intelligent development. All of this helps ensure the survival of a particular family line (at least so far as the offspring continue to procreate). We can speculate, of course, that ‘smarter’ kids attract mates easier, and therefore are more likely to have progeny, whereas the ‘less intelligent’ of our species may mate and create children, though their less brilliant offspring are more fated to an early demise due to the lacking of certain mental faculties.
Romance, on the other hand, has been a much later development than monogamy, and in some cases, is still non-existent in human mating interaction much beyond the initial stages of dating. Why? Well, perhaps the male is still running off old programs of ‘survival and provider’ mentality. Because, though romantic and desirable to the female, the whole ‘fanning of tail feathers and parades of wing-flapping, pheromone releasing games’ like those found in the animal kingdoms – does not seem to make sense to the male after the ‘catch.’ Who knows? What we do know is that monogamous practices seems to have contributed to the creation of larger brains, and therefore longer survival rates of those who engaged in it. As far as humans go, I am not sure we all received the benefit of evolution in this regard, but it’s interesting to speculate and notice, who has the ‘bigger head’ – and are they monogamous?
Written by: Stasia Bliss