Posted by: zyxo | May 21, 2008

Human procreation strategies


Photograph of a family of taken in by Frédéric de la Mure.Image via WikipediaMy wife and I deliberately chose a particular number of children we wanted to have. But in this post I am not writing about family planning. I am writing about the more ‘animal’ side of our procreation strategy. You know, animals do have procreation strategies, although they are not really planning the size of their families. Their whole behaviour is optimized as to follow their procreation strategy to get as many fertile offspring as possible.
So with human intelligence, is this all gone ? Or do these procreation strategies still influence what we do ?
I am talking survival of the fittest here, darwinism. Maximizing the number of healthy children.
How can we do this ? By :

  1. playing on numbers : maximizing the number of children we ‘make’
  2. playing on quality : maximizing the quality of the children
  3. playing on both

The point is : this does not mean the same for men and women.
In playing the numbers, females are much more limited than men. To have one baby it takes her nine months and than she has to raise it too. (The very rich ones can leave this latter part for a great deal to others). In our modern society it is hard to raise, say, 20 children and give them every possibility for education etc.
Some centuries ago, (and even now in some parts of the world) numbers were (are) a lot more important, due to high child mortality. So females play a lot on quality. More on this in a next post : female partner choice.
Men have more quantity options : they can (and many do) have children outside their own family (whithout the knowledge of their wife). He can play on quality as well : 1) choosing the “best possible” partner (what does this mean ?) as his wife, and 2)taking care as good as he can for his children in his family.


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