Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The evolution of costly traits: Competing for women can be unhealthy for men

There are human qualities that evolved in spite of being survival handicaps. These counterintuitive qualities are often named costly attributes, or Zahavian qualities (in animal signaling contexts), in honor of the evolutionary biologist Amotz Zahavi (Zahavi & Zahavi, 1997). I have composed a put up about this kind of qualities, and also an academic article (Kock, 2009). The full references and backlinks to these publications are at the conclude of this post.

The classic illustration of expensive trait is the peacock’s train, which is utilised by males to signal well being to girls. (Figure below from: The male peacock’s prepare (typically improperly known as “tail”) is a pricey trait simply because it impairs the capacity of a male to flee predators. It decreases a male’s survival good results, even although it has a optimistic web influence on the male’s reproductive accomplishment (i.e., the variety of offspring it generates). It is utilised in sexual selection the females find large and brightly coloured trains with numerous eye places "alluring".

So high priced attributes exist in a lot of species, which includes the human species, but we have not discovered them all but. The implication for human diet and life-style choices is that our ancestors may possibly have progressed some practices that are bad for human survival, and moved absent from others that are very good for survival. And I am not only talking about survival amid present day people I am speaking about survival amongst our human ancestors way too.

The straightforward reason for the existence of costly traits in people is that evolution tends to improve reproductive achievement, not survival, and that applies to all species. (Inclusive fitness idea goes a stage further, putting the gene at the middle of the assortment procedure, but this is a subject matter for yet another submit.) If that have been not the scenario, rodent species, as nicely as other species that specialize in fast copy inside relatively limited life spans, would never ever have progressed.

Right here is an interesting piece of information about research completed at the College of Michigan. (I have met the lead researcher, Dan Kruger, a pair of instances at HBES conferences. My impact is that his analysis is reliable.) The analysis illustrates the evolution of high priced attributes, from a diverse angle. The researchers argue, based on the final results of their investigation, that competing for a woman’s interest is generally undesirable for a man’s overall health!

Really intimate ...


Kock, N. (2009). The evolution of high priced characteristics via variety and the importance of oral speech in e-collaboration. Digital Marketplaces, 19(4), 221-232.

Zahavi, A. & Zahavi, A. (1997). The Handicap Theory: A missing piece of Darwin’s puzzle. Oxford, England: Oxford College Push.
Title: The evolution of costly traits: Competing for women can be unhealthy for men
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