Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Female aggression

If the evolutionary circumstances demand it, then, females can be just as aggressive as males.

But they are being aggressive to a different end.

This is no struggle to possess the opposite sex, so does it qualify as sexual selection?

That is a matter of definition, but it does go to the heart of the difference between the sexes.

Males compete because the more females they inseminate, the more genes they will leave behind.

Females mainly let the males get on with this, and pick the winners.

They increase their genetic contribution not by promiscuity but by nurturing.

If that requires violence, so be it.

In fact, Ms Watson and Dr Simmons found, horn size in female dung beetles was even more important than body size for determining reproductive success.

Fending off females who have designs on your dung-ball is evidently more important than laying extra eggs.

As to whether there are any human parallels, Ms Watson herself would not be drawn.

She did, however, observe that “somebody suggested stilettos.”


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