Friday, November 30, 2007

Human Ancestors had Harems

Extended Male Growth in a Fossil Hominin Species. 2007. Charles A. Lockwood, et al. Science 318: 1443 – 1446.

Abstract: In primates that are highly sexually dimorphic, males often reach maturity later than females, and young adult males do not show the size, morphology, and coloration of mature males. Here we describe extended male development in a hominin species, Paranthropus robustus.

Ranking a large sample of facial remains on the basis of dental wear stages reveals a difference in size and robusticity between young adult and old adult males. Combined with estimates of sexual dimorphism, this pattern suggests that male reproductive strategy focused on monopolizing groups of females, in a manner similar to that of silverback gorillas. However, males appear to have borne a substantial cost in the form of high rates of predation.

More info at National Geographic News.