The Evolutionary Biology of Human Female Sexuality

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 2008 - Health & Fitness - 411 pages
Research conducted over the last fifteen years has placed in question many of the traditional conclusions about the evolution of human female sexuality. Women have not lost estrus, as earlier researchers thought, but it is simply concealed, resulting in two functionally distinct sexualitieswith markedly different ends in each phase. At the fertile phase of the cycle, women prefer male traits that may mark superior genetic quality, and at infertile phases, they prefer men willing to invest resources in a mate. Thus, women's peri-ovulatory sexuality functions to obtain a sire ofsuperior genetic quality, and is homologous with estrus in other vertebrates. This model sheds light on male human sexuality as well: men perceive and respond to women's estrus, including by increased mate guarding. Men's response is limited, compared to other vertebrate males, implyingcoevolutionary history of selection on females to conceal estrus from men and selection on men to detect it. Research indicates that women's concealed estrus is an adaptation to copulate conditionally with men other than the pair-bond partner.Women's sexual ornaments-the estrogen-facilitatedfeatures of face and body-are honest signals of individual quality pertaining to future reproductive value.

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Background and Overview of the Book
Extended Female Sexuality

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across the cycle adaptation adaptationism adaptationist adolescent alleles ancestral androgen androstenol argued asymmetry barn swallows behavior by-products calories chacma baboon chapter chimpanzees coevolution coevolve collared flycatchers concealed fertility concealed ovulation copulation covary Cryptic female choice cuckoldry cues cycle fertility developmental digit ratios direct selection Drosophila melanogaster during estrus effects epistatic estrogen estrous cycle estrous sexuality estrus et al evolution evolutionary evolved extended female sexuality extended sexuality extra-pair copulation extra-pair paternity facial facial symmetry female choice fertile phase fertility status fitness fluctuating asymmetry function Gangestad genes genetic benefits genetic fitness genetic quality genetic variation gnathostomes gynoid gynoid fat Hadza hence heritable heterozygote hominin homologous hormonal contraception hormones human Human Female Sexuality human sexuality hypothesis immune system incidental effects individuals infanticide infertile intersexual investment jungle fowl luteal phase males mammals mammary glands masculine mate choice mate guarding material benefits mating effort melanin men's menarche menstrual cycle Moller monogamous multiple mutation-selection balance mutations nonhuman offspring orgasm ornaments ovulation pair-bond parental effort parental investment peak fertility phenotypic pheromone phylogenetic physical attractiveness polyandry polygyny polyspermy possess predicts preferences primary partners primates primatologists proceptivity progesterone reproductive success scent sexu sexual interest sexual motivation sexual selection sexual swellings sexually antagonistic sexually attractive sexually dimorphic signal sire Sociobiology species sperm sperm competition stitchbirds studies taxa testosterone Thornhill tion traits tungara frogs typically variation vertebrates women women's estrus women's sexuality

About the author (2008)

Randy Thornhill is the Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of New Mexico. He received his PhD in zoology from the University of Michigan in 1974. His research and teaching are in evolutionary biology, particularly the evolution of animal social life. Steven W. Gangestad is the Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of New Mexico. He received his PhD in 1984 from the University of Minnesota. His primary research is in evolutionary psychology and social/personality psychology. His general interests concern the ways in which humans' current psychological design is a product of evolutionary selection, and current research involves this issue in regard to phenomena that occur within close relationships such as sexualrelationships, friendships, and familial relationships. Other research concerns the developmental expressions of adaptations.

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