If Humans were Like Sparrows

It is my contention that man is just like an ibis or a swallow or a sparrow in several key respects. He lives in large colonies. Males compete with one another for places in a pecking order. Most males are monogamous. Polygamy is prevented by wives who resent sharing their husbands lest they also share his contributions to child rearing. Even though they could bring up the children unaided, the husband's paycheck is invaluable. But the ban on polygamous marriage does not prevent the males from seeking polygamous matings. Adultery is common. It is most common between high-ranking males and females of all ranks. To prevent it males try to guard their wives, are extremely violent toward their wives' lovers, and copulate with their wives frequently, not just when thev are fertile.

That is the life of the sparrow anthropomorphized. The life of man sparrowmorphized might read like this: The birds live anc 3reed in colonies called tribes or towns. Cocks compete with one another to amass resources and gain status within the colony; it is known as "business" and "politics." Cocks eagerly court hens, who resent sharing their males with other hens, but many cocks, especially senior ones, trade in their hens for younger ones or cuckold other cocks by having sex with their (willing) wives in private.

The point does not lie in the details of the sparrow's life. There are significant differences, including the fact that human beings tend to have a much more uneven distribution of domi¬ nance, power, and resources within the colony. But they still share the principal feature of all colonial birds: monogamy, or at least pair bonds, plus rife adultery rather than polygamy. The noble savage, far from living in contented sexual equanimity, was paranoid about becoming, and intent on making his neighbor into, a cuckold. Little wonder that human sex is first and foremost in all societies a private thing to be indulged in only in secret. The same is not true of bonobos, but it is true of many monogamous birds. One reason the high bastard rates of birds came as such a shock was that few naturalists had ever witnessed an adulterous affair between two birds—they do it in private.


The sexual habit differences and similarities.

Folksonomies: evolution evolutionary strategy comparative evolution

/pets/birds (0.577065)
/society/social institution/marriage (0.388993)
/society/sex (0.380209)

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principal:JobTitle (0.970957 (neutral:0.000000))

Marriage (0.983921): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Polyamory (0.692689): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Monogamy (0.677107): dbpedia | freebase
Human (0.675074): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Polygamy (0.664019): dbpedia | freebase
Sex (0.655354): dbpedia | freebase
Adultery (0.602967): dbpedia | freebase
Sexual intercourse (0.580296): dbpedia | freebase

 The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Ridley , Matt (2003-05-01), The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, Harper Perennial, Retrieved on 2011-05-03
Folksonomies: evolution culture sex evolutionary psychology


17 MAY 2011

 Comparing Ourselves to Other Animals

Examples of authors referring to animals in nature for insights into human nature.