Study Traces Origins of Monogamous Coupling

Study Traces Origins of Monogamous Coupling

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The roots of the modern family — monogamous coupling — lie somewhere in our distant evolutionary past, but scientists disagree on how it first evolved. A new study says we should thank two key players: weak males with inferior fighting chops and the females who opted to be faithful to them.

These mating strategies may “have triggered a key step in the very long process of the evolution of the family,” said study author Sergey Gavrilets, a biomathematician at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. “Without it, we wouldn’t have the modern family.” Some scientists believe that ancestors of humans had chimp-like patterns of mating and child-rearing. The transition to pair-bonding was a key step for our big-brained species, because our children take years and much energy to raise to independence. It’s hard for a mother to go it alone.

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