Blog Rating

Selected Books by Edmund Blair Bolles

  • Galileo's Commandment: 2500 Years of Great Science Writing
  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

« NY Times Story on Monkey Chatter | Main | The Quest for a Consensus »



Could it simply be the fact that humans have fewer children, who are vulnerable far longer than most other species? We need more parental care than horses do, for example; horses can walk minutes after birth. This means that human children demand far more parental investment than most other species, and genes "for" such investment would lead to more offspring, whether those genes are in males or females.

Also, I've read that many species have a "strategy" of promiscuity. Female cats are said to mate with all the males in a group, so that no male will kill a kitten that might plausibly be its offspring. Whether humans are (mostly) monogamous or not is up to the culture and the individual ... but I have a hunch that a human male is more likely to have a high degree of certainty of his fatherhood than many other species.

Could much of this have to do with the fact that human reproductive cycles are hidden, unlike many of our primate cousins?

Barbara Julian

Doesn't origin of language have more to do with human mothering arrangements than sexual arrangements? And with bipedalism: the human-primate mother could stand up and carry her infant - her arms were freed from being legs. Arms were for holding a baby, and exactly at the level for eye contact and facial expression which leads to sounds which became standardized as language. Note also that the bend of the elbow holds the infant's head at exactly the position of the nipple; the baby is nourished simultaneously by food and by mother's loving attention. Of course such infants were stimulated, contented i.e. got the emotional "survival skills." So they survived, reproduced most in turn etc.: Darwinian selection - all happening once mothers invented language to commuicate with their infants: instinctively to soothe, reassure, stimulate, and later to teach.

Over the eons juveniles took these evolving brain skills into adult relationships, and human peculiar sexual relationships would have come out of that? e.g. negotiating, reciprocating, and tend-and-befriend behaviour? These became tools to deal with threat -- "fight and flight" isn't the only way. For the weaker and slower (females, nursing mothers) other techniques had to be invented. Language!

Thank you,
B. Julian


Given all that B. Julian says about the mother-child link, we have to think about that there is available to support and allow the luxury of mothers caring for children in this way. 'It takes a village to raise a child.' Grandmothers, aunts, or daughters are needed. A secure group is needed. A father is needed. Cooperation between the men as well as between women is needed. A low level of sexual jealosy is need. We have to look at the nature of the group before we can envisage the dedicated mother.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Bookmark and Share

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

Visitor Data

Blog powered by Typepad