The Evolution of Stable Breeding Bonds

The transition from sexual promiscuity to enduring breeding bonds in the course of hominid evolution is the single-most important event that launched the exogamy configuration on its evolutionary path. How did that happen? Answers to this question have traditionally focused on the adaptive aspects of pair-bonding, but they must also take into account the relevant phylogenetic constraints set by the ancestral mating system of hominids. Up to 80% of human societies combine monogamy with polygyny, with the majority of families being monogamous in any given society. Logically, then, hominids went from chimpanzee/bonobo-like sexual promiscuity to the predominantly monogamous multifamily structure. The primate data suggest that this evolution involved two transitions: (1) from sexual promiscuity to generalized polygyny (as in the multiharem structure of hamadryas baboons), and (2) from generalized polygyny to generalized monogamy. A direct passage from sexual promiscuity to generalized monogamy is unlikely for a number of reasons. First, polygyny is the norm in mammals in general. Accordingly, some primate species exhibit the multiharem structure, but none display the multimono-gamous pair structure. (Monogamy exists in nonhuman primates but monogamous pairs do not form cohesive groups). Second, the transition from sexual promiscuity

Table 2.1 The cumulative construction of the exogamy configuration in the course of human evolution. Phase I extended from the Pan-Homo split to the evolution of stable breeding bonds. Phase II began after the evolution of stable breeding bonds and ended with the evolution of the tribe, which marked the onset of phase III

Table 2.1 The cumulative construction of the exogamy configuration in the course of human evolution. Phase I extended from the Pan-Homo split to the evolution of stable breeding bonds. Phase II began after the evolution of stable breeding bonds and ended with the evolution of the tribe, which marked the onset of phase III

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