Humans and Harems

News that a close relative of Homo Sapiens had harems, rather like the modern gorilla:

An ancient human relative may have had a love life much like the modern gorilla, with single dominant males keeping “harems” of females, research has suggested.

A study of 35 fossilised specimens of Paranthropus robustus – a hominin that lived between 1.5 million and 2 million years ago – has revealed large differences between male and female growth that shed light on its probable mating habits. Paranthropus males continued growing for much longer than do modern human beings, well into adulthood, and eventually reached sizes that made them very much larger than females, according to the analysis led by British and Italian scientists. Most would still have been growing long after their female contemporaries had started to breed.

Such disparities in size between males and females, known as sexual dimorphism, is usually associated throughout the animal kingdom with mating structures in which a single dominant male secures access to plenty of females, while smaller, subordinate males have few opportunities to breed. The gorilla has just such a sex life, with males growing for many years before they develop into fully mature “silverbacks” that start to dominate and acquire a troop of females.

But, er, no, this is not an excuse for you all to go out and get a harem (which, in our long lived species, also means a multiplicity of mothers in law, a somewhat unfortunate side effect).

Paranthropus robustus was not a direct ancestor of modern Man but lay on a separate branch of the human family tree that is now extinct.

Evolutionary dead end, you see?

2 comments on “Humans and Harems

  1. You’re not suggesting any connection with Islam, are you? Coz that would be … well, quite funny, actually.

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