Social Monogamy


Mammal monogamy is a puzzling subject. In class we have sited monogamy as a way of caring for offspring that requires many resources. Two recent articles site two different causes of monogamy among mammals. Christopher Opie and other determined in there article Male infanticide leads to social monogamy in primates that in their opinion high rates of infanticide and long weaning periods lead to monogamy among primates, and then can eventually  use similar concepts to evaluate mammals as a hole.  Their reasoning being, “extended dependency period increases the time unweaned infants are vulnerable to male infanticide. However, social monogamy can help overcome the gray ceiling  imposed by high metabolic and development costs of large brains through male care, and allow for slow reproductive rates without increased infanticide risk.”  While the reason cited in this article make sense, the article does not do a very good job of explaining why only a few primates have chosen this route. Lions have similar reasons for infanticide, and do not have the risk environment cited to be the cause of none monogamy among gorillas, yet do not present monogamous intentions. Over all while the article does a very good job of explaining monogamy among primates, it does very little to help explain monogamy as a hole among humans, and in general mammals.

The second article The evolution of social monogamy in mammals focuses on mammals as hole. Citing the solitary nature of mammals to be the cause of monogamy.  Most mammals prefer to live in solitude, such as pandas and polar bears, this makes it difficult for males to mate with more than one female because of the distance between them.   This article does a better job of explaining monogamy for mammals as a hole, as well as giving more detailed evidence for it.

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