Are humans really monogamous?

The human being is really monogamous?

Although several societies around the world tolerate polygamy, the majority of marriages still unite only two people. Are we biologically made to be monogamous? Science seems to indicate yes, finds the Rumor Detector.

Remember that we call monogamy the situation of a person who is related to only one spouse. . For some animal species, said of a male who lives with only one female at a time, at least while they raise their young.

According to a literature review published in 2019, monogamy is generally found in primate species that have only a small difference in size between male and female. This is called sexual dimorphism. The reason being that, in a polygamous system, the males have to elbow their way to conquer the females and benefit from being stronger and bigger. In humans, males are generally 15% larger and heavier than females, while in gorillas and orangutans, males can easily weigh twice their concubines.

The emergence of co-parenting

Monogamy would also be the most favorable family environment to ensure the survival of the offspring of our species. The children of Homo sapiens are born very dependent on their parents and require a lot of care compared to those of other species, in order to bring the children to maturity and develop their full potential. gray matter.

Parents therefore had an advantage, from a strictly biological or evolutionary point of view, in cooperating: because women have to devote a lot of energy to this task and are not ready to procreate again for a long time. The fathers would therefore have somehow united their efforts with the mothers. In addition to cooperation, this offered an additional degree of protection to their own offspring.

However, studies have suggested over time that it is monogamy that creates a favorable context for the emergence of paternal care, and not the other way around. One of the hypotheses, raised in 2016 in the journal Nature, which tries to explain what favored the development of a monogamous lifestyle, is that when males are superior in number in a society, they tend to tie themselves to one woman. This guarantees the bond of paternity towards its young.

Biologists and anthropologists see it as a form of natural selection at work: this way of life favoring the descent of the group, it would have gradually led to a greater closeness to the fathers, and ultimately, to an intensification of paternal care.


Even if it is impossible to know everything that has happened in the last million years, studies, in particular those which compare the human being with his primate cousins, suggest that our ancestors would have evolved towards a monogamous way of life to provide an environment safe for their offspring and facilitate the survival of their offspring.

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