Human mating competition was won by brawn, not beauty

Winning mates in early human history was dependent on sheer physical prowess, not attractiveness.

Last Updated: May 14, 2010, 11:16 AM IST

Washington: Winning mates in early human history was dependent on sheer physical prowess, not attractiveness.

"There is sexual competition in many species, including humans," said David A. Puts, assistant professor of biological anthropology.

For men, it appears that physical competition among males was more important, similar to many of the apes in using male competition to determine access to mates, the winning male choosing the women he wants.

Men are far more aggressive than women, and approximately 30 percent of men in small-scale foraging communities die violently.

The main sticking point with human male competition compared to other species is that male humans do not possess inherent weapons, which Puts explains by saying that men don’t have them, but they make them - such as bows and arrows.

Other male traits also seem to imply competition. Males have thicker jawbones, which may have come from men hitting each other and the thickest-boned men surviving. Competition may explain why males have more robust skulls and brow ridges than women.
Species that live on the ground or the sea floor have more intense mating competitions because there are only two dimensions to defend, unlike in air or water. Some insects that live in tunnels or burrows exhibit the most intense competition because it is impossible for the other male to get to the females except through the defender.
"Things are different for us now in many ways," said Puts. "It’s heartening to think that human behaviour is flexible enough that the right social institutions can increase equality and peace."

ANI