Darwin-L Message Log 8:50 (April 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<8:50>From azlerner@midway.uchicago.edu  Sat Apr 16 02:50:21 1994

Date: Sat, 16 Apr 94 02:50:19 CDT
From: "Asia "I work in mysterious ways" Lerner" <azlerner@midway.uchicago.edu>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: mating

  In regard to the discussion of male mate preferences:    It is true that
  males in general should prefer young females over old because young females
  are in general more "fertile".

Supposition : the span of time within which permanent coupling and loss of
estrus was established is enough to embed the above types of behaviour in
the biological stratum.

    But the issue is more complex than this.
  Among humans, males can be playing a number of different strategies,
  sometimes simultaneously, and optimal mate choice is expected to vary
  accordingly.  If choosing a life-long partner (wife), males are expected to
  choose females based on their reproductive value, which is the average number
  of offspring that remain to be born to a female of age x..   Reproductive
  value varies according to population but generally is maximum at some age
  just after puberty.    If a male is playing , an opportunistic mating
  strategy and seeks short term mating opportunities, he should choose females
  that will maximize the probability that this one copulation will result in a
  conception, i.e., female fertility rather than reproductive value should
  guide the male's decisions.

  Fertility is the average number of offspring
  produced at each particular age. The fertility curve and reproductive value
  curve are not equivalent. Female fertility maxes later in age than does
  reproductive value.

Well, reproductive value would not wax in your story, only wane.

  Thus, all other things being equal,  the prediction is
  that males looking for a "one night stand" should prefer older females, while
  males looking for wives should prefer younger women

This prediction, of course, rests on the supposition that "fertility" or
"reproductive value" are the single overwhelming criteria for the human
male, which seems rather doubious. Anyhow, did anybody in fact observe
that "males looking for a one night stand" prefer older females than those
who are "looking for wives?"

  In this context it is not contrary that a male chimp  rejects an adolescent
  female's solicitation.  While she may be higher reproductive value,
  adolescents are less fertile compared to a mature and tested female.

Chimps, however, exibit harem behaviour, not "one night stand" behaviour.


Your Amazon purchases help support this website. Thank you!

© RJO 1995–2022