A Natural History of Families
Why do baby sharks, hyenas, and pelicans kill their siblings? Why do beetles and mice commit infanticide? Why are twins and birth defects more common in older human mothers? A Natural History of Families concisely examines what behavioral ecologists have discovered about family dynamics and what these insights might tell us about human biology and behavior. Scott Forbes's engaging account describes an uneasy union among family members in which rivalry for resources often has dramatic and even fatal consequences.
In nature, parents invest resources and control the allocation of resources among their offspring to perpetuate their genetic lineage. Those families sometimes function as cooperative units, the nepotistic and loving havens we choose to identify with. In the natural world, however, dysfunctional familial behavior is disarmingly commonplace.
While explaining why infanticide, fratricide, and other seemingly antisocial behaviors are necessary, Forbes also uncovers several surprising applications to humans. Here the conflict begins in the moments following conception as embryos struggle to wrest control of pregnancy from the mother, and to wring more nourishment from her than she can spare, thus triggering morning sickness, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Mothers, in return, often spontaneously abort embryos with severe genetic defects, allowing for prenatal quality control of offspring.
Using a broad sweep of entertaining examples culled from the world of animals and humans, A Natural History of Families is a lively introduction to the behavioral ecology of the family.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - waltzmn - LibraryThing
A very difficult book to start -- the first chapter is almost entirely about young birds being killed or left to die by their parents and siblings. And I think it genuinely ignores the benefits that ... Read full review
A natural history of familiesUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Forbes's repetitive and disorganized treatise is pinned on a fascinating thesis: that observing the family behavior of birds, ants, pandas and a variety of other animal species can help our own ... Read full review
Do the Good Die Young?
The Family Myth
The Optimistic Parent
How Many Babies?
Core and Marginal Offspring
The Evolution of Family Structure
What Is Parental Optimism?
Twinning as an Insurance Strategy
Age Trisomy 21 and Twinning
More Than Just Polyovulation
Twinning and Individual Optimization
Fit or Fat?
Natural Selection on Twinning Frequency
Brood Reduction before Birth?
Fatal Sibling Rivalry
Why Parental Optimism?
Why Parents Play Favorites
The Fivefold Advantage of Favoritism
How Parents Play Favorites
How Birds Play Favorites
How Blackbirds Play Favorites
How Marsupials Play Favorites
Brood Reduction in Rabbits
How Plants Play Favorites
Different Species Same Idea
Humans Play Favorites Too
Imprinted Genes in Humans
Pregnancy Sickness and Genetic Conflict
Brood Parasitic Birds
The Origins of Brood Parasitism
Screening for Offspring Quality
Sequential versus Simultaneous Progeny Choice
Progeny Choice in Humans
Chromosomal Defects in Humans
Birth Defects and Maternal Age
The Origin of Genetic Defects
Screening Maternal Age and the Role of Genomic Imprinting
Maternal Age and Twinning
Parental Optimism and the Evolution of Cooperation
The Benefits of Teamwork
The Ultimate Team Players
Conflict When Necessary but Not Necessarily Conflict
Cooperative Defense against Parents?
Facilitation in Humans?
Birth Order and Human Behavior
Cannibalism and Infanticide
The Pathways to Infanticide
Infanticide in Families
Brave New Worlds
Artificial Parental Optimism and Infanticide
Artificial Progeny Choice
Refining Artificial Progeny Choice
Send in the Clones
Parental Optimism and the Law of Unintended Consequences
Debunking the Family Myth