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Study Traces Origins of Monogamous Coupling

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

The roots of the modern family--monogamous coupling--lie somewhere in our distant evolutionary past, but scientists disagree on how it first evolved. A new study says we should thank two key players: weak males with inferior fighting chops and the females who opted to be faithful to them.

These mating strategies may "have triggered a key step in the very long process of the evolution of the family," said study author Sergey Gavrilets, a biomathematician at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. "Without it, we wouldn't have the modern family."

The mating structure of humans is strikingly different than that of sexually promiscuous chimps, in which a few alpha males dominate other males in the group and, by dint of their superior fighting prowess, freely mate with the females. Lower-status males are largely shut out from mating opportunities.

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