London - Confident and cocky, alpha males might have you believe that they could win the heart of any woman they want.
But when it comes to finding a mate, women are actually hardwired to go for a meeker, less macho chap who is a good provider, a study suggests.
American researchers have looked into the reasons why humans developed the two-parent nuclear family.
Our primitive ancestors would have inherited the social structure of the apes – a sexual free-for-all with males fighting each other for mating rights.
But scientists at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, say a “sexual revolution” occurred when lower-ranking males who had no chance of winning a fight cottoned on to providing food and care instead.
Their effort paid off, as they got the immediate benefit of mating. And in the long run, females decided they preferred being looked after and started forming long-term relationships, the study found. Sergey Gavrilets, an evolutionary biologist, said this was “a foundation for the later emergence of the institution of modern family”.
It made males more productive, as they wasted less time fighting, and having two parents around meant offspring were more likely to survive, the study suggests.
Professor Gavrilets said experts have struggled to explain how the modern family arose, because they thought if low-ranking males started providing food, the bigger ones would just fight them off.
He said they did not realise until now that female choice was the critical factor.
“Once females began to show preference for being provisioned, the low-ranked males’ investment in female provisioning over male-to-male competition pays off,” he added.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study on early human evolution demonstrates mathematically that the most commonly proposed theories for the transition to human pair-bonding are not biologically feasible.
However, the authors advance a new model showing that the transition to pair-bonding can occur when female choice and faithfulness, among other factors, are included.
The result is an increased emphasis on provisioning females over male competition for mating.
The effect is most pronounced in low-ranked males who have a low chance of winning a mate in competition with a high-ranked male, the study claims.
Thus, the low-ranked male attempts to buy mating by providing for the female, which in turn is then reinforced by females who show preference for the low-ranked, ‘provisioning’ male, according to author.
The study reveals that female choice played a crucial role in human evolution and that future studies should include between-individual variation to help explain social dilemmas and behaviours, Mr Gavrilets said. - Daily Mail