201-08s-12-MatingAndFemales - Introduction to Biological...

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Introduction to Biological Anthropology: Notes 12 Mating: primate females Copyright Bruce Owen 2008 - As we have seen before, the bottom line in evolution is reproductive success - reproductive success : measured as how many fertile offspring an individual produces in its lifetime that live to reproductive age - any trait that increases reproductive success becomes more common in the next generation - obviously, to have any reproductive success, an individual has to survive long enough to reproduce - but reproductive success is also strongly affected by how effective individuals are at mating and making sure their offspring live to healthy adulthood - Point: natural selection strongly favors behaviors that result in more offspring being produced - mating and parenting behavior must have a big effect on reproductive success - so it is reasonable to explain mating and parenting behaviors by evaluating the costs and benefits of these behaviors to reproductive success - that is what we will do here: try to explain male and female primate mating and parenting behavior in terms of costs and benefits to reproductive success - you might play a mental game while studying evolutionary explanations of primate behavior - consider how you might apply these ideas to human behavior - many are quite applicable - but beware: humans are a more complex case - some of our behavior is obviously strongly influenced by heredity - for example, most individuals seek sex - most females care for their children - these behaviors are so universal, and so obviously related to reproductive success, that they are presumably at least partially the result of natural selection - but more than any other animal, our behavior is also influenced by learning - including the values and practices of culture - learned behavior is not inherited - offspring may learn behavior that differs from that of their parents - individuals may learn behaviors from friends, celebrities, teachers, etc. - the point: the evolutionary postulate that offspring resemble their parents does not apply to aspects of behavior that we acquire mostly through learning - so the whole evolutionary process as Darwin modeled it is not directly applicable to learned behaviors - so explanations in terms of reproductive success are not relevant to learned behavior, including culture - so we have to be very careful about applying evolutionary explanations to human behavior - but many behavioral tendencies are so widespread among humans that they must have some biological basis - learning may influence them, but so do genes
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Intro to Biological Anthro S 2008 / Owen: Mating and females p. 2 - evolutionary explanations are applicable to those behavioral tendencies that are heritable - unfortunately, telling which behaviors are or are not partially heritable is extremely difficult in creatures with behavior as complex as ours - Conventional terms and concepts - strategy : behavior that is viewed (or "explained") in terms of its results. -
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course ANTH 201 taught by Professor Owen during the Spring '08 term at Sonoma.

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201-08s-12-MatingAndFemales - Introduction to Biological...

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