Evolution, Society and Sexual Dimorphism in Mammals

In 1798 Malthus’ Essay on the principle of Population sowed a seed that was to germinate in Charles Darwin’s mind as the theory of natural selection, published in the Origin of Species in 1859. Malthus had noted that although a breeding pair generally produces a total of more than two offspring, many populations do not grow as fast as this would imply, if at all, Darwin was impressed by the subtlety of species’ adaptations and saw that individuals differed in the detail of their adaptation and thus their “fitness”, i.e. the perfection of adaptations to prevailing conditions. The variation between individuals arose from the mixing of genetic material involved in sexual reproduction, and from mutation, although the connection between these mechanisms and Darwin’s theory was not realized until 1900 when Mendal’s work of 1865 was rediscovered.

Since populations do not necessarily grow, many of the young born must die, and the variation between individuals facilitates selective death, allowing better adapted individuals to prosper. Traits which confer an adaptive advantage will thus spread, if they are heritable, since those who bear them will become an increasingly large proportion of the breeding population. Natural selection fashions individuals of succeeding generations to be ever better adapted to their circumstances. The characteristics of a species represent the sum of the actions of natural selection on similar individuals.

It is wrong to say that animals behave “for the good of the species”-rather, individuals are adapted to maximize their own fitness, which is equivalent to maximizing the number of their offspring which survive to breed. In fact, selection acts on the genetic material that underlies each individual’s traits, and so individuals actually behave in ways that promote the survival of the genes for which they are temporary vehicles-hence Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins’ now famous term, the “selfish gene.” Sometimes an individual helps its relatives, behaving in a way that appears detrimental to its own interests but is on balance beneficial to its genes, and hence improves its overall (or inclusive) fitness.

Individual mammals behave so as to maximize their reproductive success and since the pattern of reproduction is the core of society, adaptation to this end are reflected in the great variety of mammalian social systems. There is an asymmetry between males and females in this respect: sperm and cheaper to produce than ova, and of course only female mammals bear the costs of pregnancy and lactation. Therefore males may more readily maximize their reproductive success by mating with many females. Females, in contrast, can mother only a comparatively small number of young and so maximize their reproductive success by investing heavily in the quality of each offspring and, in particular, securing the very best (evolutionary fittest) father. Infanticide, as practiced by males of some primates and some carnivores, is a striking example of the lengths to which males will go to spread their genes at the expanse of their rivals’-the death of their rival males’ offspring brings lactating females back into the heat (estrus), in addition to disposing of potential competitors of the infanticidal male’s own progeny.

Females are a resource over which male mammals compete. The stringent natural selection that therefore operates between competing males is called sexual selection. It explains why many mammals are polygynous (one male mates with several females), few are polyandrous (one female mates with several males) and why males are often bigger than females (i.e. sexes are dimorphic). A big male defeats more rivals, secures more females in his harem and thus sires more offspring; if his size and prowess are passed to his sons, they will in turn become successful, dominant males. Therefore, females adapted to behave in a way which enables their sons to prosper will select only the biggest, most successful, males as mates.

The situation is different if the species’ niche is such that a male’s reproductive success is affected by the quality of his parental care rather than simply by the quality of his sperm; for example, amongst members of the dog family the survival of young depends on their father provisioning them with prey, and the male would find it impossible to provide for more than one or perhaps two litters. In that event natural selection favors monogamy and the size and appearance of male and female are less disparate. This explains why greater sexual dimorphism is associated with polygyny, but it is less obvious why sexual dimorphism is disproportionately marked among bigger species. One possible answer is that energy demands are relatively less on larger species and there

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Sex, Society and the Internet

Sex, society and the Internet. These three explosive topics have elicited a lot of conversation and controversy. Society has always had a fascination with sex. However, over the centuries the fascination has gone from closed doors to open format.

What changed society’s willingness to discuss and view sex in an open forum? The term Sexual Revolution was first noted in 1929, when Thurber and White used the expression in their book, Is Sex Necessary? However, some historians believe the sexual revolution actually began in the 1960s. Prior to the 1960s, society, as a whole, had a very puritanical view of sex and sex was not openly discussed.

Skip a few decades to the explosion of the Internet and an entirely new kind of sexual revolution began. No longer was sex a veiled and taboo subject that could cause a scandal. Nor was sex hidden in a stack of magazines, secret drawers or a stash of DVDs on a hush-hush closet shelf. It was a wide-open arena for anyone to participate in.

The new sexual revolution focused on sexual freedom and experimentation. The Internet “superhighway” gave easy access to sexual content in a way society had never experienced before.

Chat rooms and instant messaging became the new form of “meeting” and “communicating” with other people. Mega “super stars” were sometimes unwittingly born from taped sexual escapades in “private” trysts. (Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee, and Paris Hilton are the most notable.)

The question is has society, as a whole, become a better place now that knowledge of any kind is so easily accessible? There are pros and cons. A few of the extraordinary assets of the Internet are:

Research can be done on a much broader scale and performed with a lot more ease.
Information can be disseminated more rapidly.
The exposure to various cultures and societies is much more obtainable whether or not you can travel.
Moreover, the chance for running your own business is available to anyone.
However, the incredible downside is that our society has become:

More overweight.
More disconnected.
Face-to-face social skills are rapidly declining.
The moral gauge of society is becoming obscured.
Sexual predators have gained much easier access to their prey.
In addition, cheating on a partner is a click away and a lot easier to hide. Today, meeting someone on the Internet from anywhere in the world is easy, and many justify cyber-sex as mere flirtation and do not classify it as cheating.
Because of the free-for-all, cyber-sex and cyber-affairs have run rampant. The divorce rate at 38% only a few years ago, is climbing to over 50%. *(National Center for Health Statistic based on 46 reporting states. This measurement is based on per capita.)

In addition to a higher rate of divorce, young children, pre-teens and teenagers have been given carte blanche access to the Internet. They are being exposed to sexual predators and pornography at an alarming rate as Internet addiction is reaching epidemic proportion.

The backlash from the massive exposure of the Internet Sexual Revolution, coupled with the social abandonment, has come at a great cost to humanity and the relationships we value.

While the Internet does offer a vast world of possibilities and exciting exploration of the world around us, without limitations it has become an addictive hazard that people, for the most part, unintentionally use to destroy their families and relationships. Moreover, overuse is known to cause problems physically, financially and emotionally.

The Internet is a great tool to utilize. But it’s just that, a tool. However, for too many people their Internet connection has become their friend, lover and world. The utopian culture Internet addicts create for themselves is becoming a large-scale dilemma.

What is the solution to the worldwide problem? The only answer is for society to begin reconnecting to the real world and curb their enthusiasm for their computers and the technology that runs them. The Internet is not the adversary; it’s the uncontrolled use of the Internet that causes problems in all areas of an addict’s life.

*It should be noted that the higher rate of divorce was not blamed on the use of the Internet. Some studies cited the ease of which divorce is now available as one of the contributing factors in the rise of divorce.

Jaci Rae’s grit and determination have brought her from an impoverished childhood to a career as an award-winning singer, No. 1 best-selling author and entrepreneur who has toured around the world. Jaci shares her down-to-earth advice as the relationship advisor/expert/dating coach for igniteromance.com, savvymiss.com, lovingyou.com, loveisgreat.com and lsinglescafe.net

She is the author of The Indie Guide to Music, Marketing and Money, as well as Winning Points With The Woman In Your Life One Touchdown At A Time, Shop for a Day with Jaci Rae How to Get Almost Anything for Free (not published yet) and Collista’s Search for the True Meaning of Christmas (not published yet).

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