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Monogamy’s Boost to Human Evolution -

Monogamy s Boost to Human Evolution NYTimes com

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While the two new studies published last week disagree about the force driving the evolution of monogamy, they do agree on something important. “Once monogamy has evolved, then male care is far more likely,” Dr. Opie said.

Once a monogamous primate father starts to stick around, he has the opportunity to raise the odds that his offspring will survive. He can carry them, groom their fur and protect them from attacks.

In our own lineage, however, fathers went further. They had evolved the ability to hunt and scavenge meat, and they were supplying some of that food to their children. “They may have gone beyond what is normal for monogamous primates,” said Dr. Opie.

The extra supply of protein and calories that human children started to receive is widely considered a watershed moment in our evolution. It could explain why we have brains far bigger than other mammals.

Brains are hungry organs, demanding 20 times more calories than a similar piece of muscle. Only with a steady supply of energy-rich meat, Dr. Okie suggests, were we able to evolve big brains — and all the mental capacities that come with it.

Because of monogamy, Dr. Opie said, “This could be how humans were able to push through a ceiling in terms of brain size.”

I'm surprised brains only need 20 times the calories. 

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