ASB 194 lect7.doc


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MATING AND MARRIAGE PATTERNS I. Marriage- After obtaining resources and surviving to adulthood, the next most important fitness challenge is finding a mate. In humans societies marriage is universal. Although legal and formal agreements are found only in some societies, the pattern we call marriage is easily recognized. It consists of cohabitation (in public and socially approved) between a man and woman with both partners providing goods and services to the other on a continual basis and with sexual relations between the couple usually with the intent to reproduce. Thus, the purpose of marriage is universally recognized to be the production of offspring through sexual relations and the economic cooperation typical between spouses (and often their families) in order to successfully rear those offspring. Slide Agta3 Agta (philippines) nuclear family in their dry season shelter (photo B. Griffin) Although all mammals must copulate to produce offspring, in very few does the male continue to reside with a female after copulation, and become involved in offspring support. Such a pattern is generally only found in living organisms when: 1) male support is critical to offspring survival/well-being; 2) confidence in paternity is high. Paternity confidence refers to the probability that a male can be certain he is the genetic father of an offspring. . If males have low confidence in paternity they are unlikely to invest in an offspring (who may have been produced by another male). Because of male investment in offspring, human mating and parenting strategies, are more like birds than like other mammals. 8% of mammal species are monogamous, while 90% of bird species are monogamous. Why? Baby birds, like baby humans, are born helpless, and require a lot of parental care before they are able to fend for themselves. Many mammals, on the other hand, can get up and walk around almost as soon as they are born. Among the majority of flying birds, the female simply cannot feed herself and her brood by herself--the provisioning of the male is critical to their survival. A similar pattern seems to have developed at some point in human evolution. Few primates show long-term pair bonding between males and females. Baboon females do have favored male partners (termed 'friends' by Smuts 1985) who tend to spend more time with them, interact more with their infants, defend females and their infants, and are more likely to father their offspring than are males who are not their friends. These tendencies are statistical -- both males and females copulate with other individuals who are not their friends, also spending time with the others, caring for their infants etc. This might be considered extremely weak 'marriage'. baboon friends (photo B. Smuts)
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This note was uploaded on 03/01/2011 for the course ASB 194 taught by Professor Hill during the Spring '11 term at ASU.

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