Monday, January 24, 2011

An Advantage of the Polygamous Over Monogamous

From a study that appears in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, we find out some interesting news out of the Centre for Evolutionary Biology, University of Western Australia.

The team discovered that sperm from polygamous mice are better competitors in the race for fertilisation.

As always, this may or may not be applicable to human beings.

Dr Renee Firman and her team attempted to show that sperm from rival males compete to fertilise females and that, over several generations, polygamy can select for mice who produce more sperm, with stronger motility, than monogamous males.

The study found that while 53 per cent of the litters had mixed paternity, 33 per cent of litters were fathered by the polygamous males compared to 14 per cent by monogamous males.

And whether they were mated first or second, polygamous males retained this advantage, showing that the increased fitness applies to both offensive and defensive competition.

Depending on the causation, if someone wants children they may be better off practicing polygamy, and someone who doesn’t want children may find an advantage in monogamy instead of polygamy. Or maybe the more fertile are more likely to practice polygamy? As a reminder, I am not against monogamy. I am a firm believer that each person should be free to pursue celibacy, monogamy, polyamory, or polygamy (in whatever form).
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