Professor Sergey Gavrilets, the author of the study, maintains that males who were unable to compete with ‘alpha males’ initiated a sexual revolution that led to monogamous society. These low-ranking males chose new mating strategies that involved taking care of the offspring (a task traditionally left to the female) and picking up faithful females, so they could be sure that they were feeding their own children.
The researcher used mathematical models to test a number of mating strategies that could lead to monogamy. He tried to figure out different scenarios; first, what would happen if the ‘weak males’ changed their mating habits; then, what would happen if they would mate just faithful females.
‘When I factored those things in, then things start to happen with the formation of pair bonds,’ says Gavrilets. ‘People don’t realize that the most important sexual revolution for our species happened much, much earlier [than commonly thought] — probably several million years earlier.’
The findings, to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, seem to offer an answer to why humans started monogamous coupling. The issue, however, remains a complex one, so it is still to be seen what other scientists may think about the study.
Gavrilets S. (2012). Human origins and the transition from promiscuity to pair-bonding. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Mating Mind