When cave-bros went out and chased strange, they died more often. Makes sense …
We all have that one friend: The person who, after another weekend of excess, comes back home with tales of 4 or 5 different conquests, each more unprotected then the next. We're sure they're going to die soon, likely from some unbearable complications of the itchy, dripping genitals of death. They're not monogamous in the least, and never plan to be.
As it turns out, this scenario isn't unique to contemporary culture, in fact, it's been happening for tens of thousands of years. Per suggestions of a new study, the weekend turn-up of prehistoric humans could have been the cause of current monogamy status. Sex fiends died, single-partner couples thrived.
So says Chris Bauch of the University of Waterloo in Canada, who co-authored the paper Disease dynamics and costly punishment can foster socially imposed monogamy. He and his team suggest that, in smaller communities of hunter gatherer-type populations that practiced polygyny (where a man has many breeding partners), sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis often ran their courses quickly. The group was able to bounce back relatively fast after an outbreak. When these groups were larger, however, the funk became endemic and generally wiped out a large portion of the herd.
This all while the "one-man-to-one-woman" model sat around surviving and whatnot. Not fuckin' around? Nothing to worry about …
But the guesstimations aren't without critique. Some believe that STIs had little to do with monogamy, and the advent of agriculture was the sole reason why people began settling down. No longer forced to move about the land so quickly, humans were now more interested in personal property and owning things — like women. Because of this, some claim, monogamy was the hot new trend, thus beginning man's reign against the equality of women to their mates.
The authors of the new paper note that other factors, aside from just STIs, may have influenced early survivors to switch to monogamy, but feel like it's an area that's overlooked in current models of prediction. "A lot of the ways we behave with others, our rules for social interaction, also have origins in some kind of natural environment,” says Bauch.
Both make sense. Our species' survival is solely based on which characteristics were lucky enough to get through the suck of rigorous conditions and time. If cave-bros were out chasing tail that was infected with muck, they're not going to last very long — especially when compared to Gina and Blurk over in Cave 208A that just sit around having sex with each other. All they have to worry about is long-horned predators and famine. They're a lot more likely to make it out alive. But if they were also viewing females as their own property, venturing out for strange wasn't likely in the cards. So our completely uneducated guess on the matter is that both played a pivotal part in the monogamy process (with other factors very likely).
It probably had nothing to do with "God" — we're just going out on a limb here by saying that.
Ain't life grand?
cover photo: Peter Georgi/BBC