Social Monogamy in Primates

The evolution of monogamy in primates has been a very intriguing subject for many researchers resulting in various hypotheses to explain its evolution. Currently, it seems that social monogamy has resulted in mammals because it overall increases the viability of the offspring, especially when the offspring is quite vulnerable while young, which in turn only helps to further perpetuate the parental genes; this benefit ignores the fact that reproductive opportunities are greatly reduced which also further proves that social monogamy is beneficial when given the correct conditions. It is also important to note that in social monogamy the male is more likely to ensure that the offspring is theirs compared to polygamous relationships where only the female has the guarantee. Because of the existing interest in the evolution of social monogamy in mammals, there have been increasing and varying hypotheses as to explain the occurrence. As we can see in the article Opie et al. they state that social monogamy evolved specifically due to the high infanticide rates occurring, coupled with the long lactation periods. They also explain the significance of the way that discrete ranges in females give rise to males choosing to seek a monogamous relationship in order to compete with rivals. On the other hand, Lukas and Clutton-Brock attribute social monogamy, not with the high risk of male infanticide, but instead it has evolved due to high competition between females and low female density, also stating that it may have resulted as a mate guarding strategy in which males were not able to defend more than one female. Though they do recognize the effects of male infanticide and its connection to the evolution of social monogamy, they do not attribute it as a “…principal mechanism for the evolution of social monogamy in mammals.”. Though both articles give rise to very convincing arguments, personally I feel that the way the research and argument is presented in the Lukas and Clutton-Brock is the overall much more convincing article. The way they decide to structure their information and present is to the reader does not only facilitate reading but also allows for the argument to flow and build upon previous statements and facts. When compared to Opie et al. they also provide much more data and tables that further support their analysis and argument and overall simply increases the credibility. Both articles have given me different aspects to consider when it comes to social monogamy in primates. Before reading the articles I feel as though I merely had a vague understanding of the evolution of social monogamy, only attributing it to the fact that it is advantageous for certain species, but now I have a much more detailed and clear understanding with further evidence to support the phenomenon. It was surprising to read that paternal care most likely evolved after the initial development of social monogamy instead of simultaneously or even before.

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