In the study, the researchers analyzed field observations of the monkeys' behavior, along with genetic samples from a total of 128 monkeys, including some that lived in groups, and others that were solitary "floaters." Register to join beta. Look out for your Lunchtime Genius newsletter in your inbox soon. "We found a link between... parental care and having few instances of cheating," Huck said. There are three main explanations for why social monogamy evolved in humans, and biologists are still arguing which is the most important. William Reville is an emeritus professor of biochemistry at UCC, Mapmakers and tilers have found how elegant variation can be achieved with care, A new grid was established about 20 years ago and has become the standard, Science is acutely aware of its limits but scientism is dogmatic, Our way of life exerts incredible selection pressures on the natural world, The Great Famine led to much soul searching about ‘good’ food versus ‘bad’, A long, bleak winter looms but before we get there nature has a treat in store. Male to female size ratio (sexual dimorphism) in a species is also a clue as to whether monogamy or polygamy is practised. © 2020 Scientific American, a Division of Springer Nature America, Inc. Support our award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. Even in primates, where it is more common, only about a quarter of species are monogamous. For example, male gorillas are much bigger than females and polygamy is the rule. What a biologist means by monogamy is not necessarily what a marriage counselor might assume. Though we no longer rely on bestiaries for education in religion or natural history, they can deepen our appreciation for elephants and other animals by exploring new layers of meaning we may never have imagined. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. Ludwig XV 2, fol. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our. Begle, Grace Griffith. (It's not aliens. [Image Gallery: 25 Primates in Peril]. However, if you look across the entire primate range, the human penis size is not remarkable – one baboon one third of human weight has a penis almost as long as the human penis. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program. Our early ape ancestors weren’t monogamous and the practice probably didn’t take off until Homo erectus emerged, around 1.9 million years ago. By Iris Ho on April 25 2017 in Environment. Not necessarily. It may be because human babies need a lot of looking after and stable couples can share the parenting burden. As herbivores, and depending on the elephant’s surroundings, they may eat a number of different herbs, roots, bark, fruits, grasses, and tree leaves. On average, they will only give birth once every four to nine years, and the number of calves birthed is usually one although, occasionally, there may be two born together. Monogamy is also a much more energetically economical arrangement than polygamy which is wasteful of time and energy as males fight over females. The historical basis of this story is the mistaken claim that elephants cannot bend their knees in order to safely lie down or get back up, thus forcing them to sleep propped against trees. This is especially true in species in which females may be hard for males to find, because of the conditions in which the animals dwell. And in an interview with NPR, Larry Young , PhD, who works in the primate research center at Emory University, explains that these creatures tend to be loyal even after death . Monogamy in humans is beneficial because it increases the chances of raising offspring, but it is actually very rare in mammals – less than 10 per cent of mammal species are monogamous, compared with 90 per cent of bird species. Research in a number of animal species suggests that differences in neurochemicals and receptors might influence various degrees of these sorts of pairing. See which animals stay true to their true loves and how humans stack up against animal kingdom odds.