Category Archives: Nature

The Myth of Male Polygamy and Female Monogamy

We often hear natural male polygamy and female monogamy being referred to in the context of scientific fact. This myth, which has no biological foundation at all, was thought up by men back in the day of patriarchy and continues to be supported by men for obvious reasons. No species whose breeding strategy differs among its male and female representatives can ever survive! Nature has no examples of a species in which the males are polygamous and the females monogamous or vice verse. Either both sexes are polygamous or both are monogamous. Contrary to widespread assumptions, all ‘harem-forming’ species are totally polygamous i.e. polygamy is evident in both the males and the females. When a lioness is on heat, she will mate with any other male in the absence of the harem leader. The opposite example can be seen among wolves, swans and some other animals, where both male and female are monogamous.

The human species is decidedly polygamous. In modern society, both men and women tend to have more than 5 sexual partners throughout their lifetime and more than 40% have children with different sexual partners. Biologically speaking, men and women are completely equal and have similar rights to gene preservation.

Throughout the history of humankind, we as a species have adopted various types of mating systems depending on environmental and demographic circumstances: polygyny, polyandry, polyamory, monogamy. It should be noted that in every circumstance both men and women stuck to the same mating system and were equally maximising their chances of gene preservation.

The immediate question that comes to mind is how we ended up with a prevalence of monogamous marriage? The answer is simple. Monogamous marriage maximises the chances of gene preservation for both men and women in civilised society.

Humans are the most advanced social animals with the largest brain size in relation to the body. Our babies are born relatively undeveloped and weak compared to other mammals and require the longest fostering period (among all animals) before they are mature enough to take care of themselves and pass on their own genes.

With the development of civilisation and the increasing complexity of society, the fostering period we give our children has also grown. If previously 12-14 year-olds were working or protecting their tribe on an equal footing with their parents, nowadays maturity and independence come in a young person’s early 20s upon graduation from university.

Monogamous marriage maximises a child’s chances to successfully reach the necessary maturity and level of social development required to find a partner and pass on their genes to the next generation.

It should, however, be noted, that monogamous marriage in its strictest sense is a very rare occasion among both humans and animals. In reality, the majority of partners stick to social monogamy while remaining sexually polygamous, both in males and females equally.

Some may claim that men are more prone to adultery than women, but every sexual relationship a man develops outside of marriage usually involves an equally ‘adulterous’ woman.

Translated from Russian original by Joanna Dobson

Cuckoos, dragonflies, Bonobo monkeys and the Law of Gene Preservation

Translated from Russian original by Joanna Dobson

Question from reader N:

Dear Author,

Your theory on the Law of Gene Preservation is totally indefensible! Take for example the cuckoo. As soon as the cuckoo has laid its egg it puts it into the nest of another bird and forgets about it forever. The other bird sits on the egg until the chick hatches and sometimes even nurses it.  Is the Law of Gene Preservation working here?

Author’s reply:

Dear Reader N,

Here the maternal instinct may be absent in the cuckoo, but in no way is the Law of Gene Preservation absent! If the Law of Gene Preservation did not work among cuckoos they would throw their eggs away, or even worse, eat them. On the contrary, cuckoos only put their eggs in the nests of birds when they are certain that the other bird will sit on their eggs until they hatch and then feed their chicks. In this way, the cuckoo gene is preserved.  All living beings in nature are subject to the Law of Gene Preservation, otherwise they would not survive.

Reader X:

I would like to add one more example to illustrate the working of the Law of Gene Preservation and its precedence over the Basic Instinct. From Wikipedia: Dragonflies mate on the fly. The secondary copulative apparatus in males is highly specialised and has no analogy among other insects. The male dragonfly removes any sperm left by a previous male before inseminating the female with his own. The females of some species (dragonflies) mimic the colouring of the males to reduce the amount of attention they receive so that they can move more quickly to the egg-laying stage.


That’s a wonderful example. Thank you!


Reader A.K.:

Dear Author,

You claim that animals do not have Freedom of Choice. Allow me to contradict you there. The female Bonobo monkey often gives herself to the male, who brings her a large ripe banana. In other words, does she not make a choice to reject the other males? Could you say that there is a kind of prostitution among bonobos?


Dear A.K.,

This is quite different to the kind of Choice that people are capable of making. The female bonobo operates exclusively according to her innate programming to choose the best genes to cross with her own. It is not as if she can take precautions! Here there can be no great surprises and so there is no real free choice, or for that matter, prostitution. The whole process is totally determined. A female bonobo will never choose a sick, weakling male who can’t get for her a large ripe banana. Despite the genetic similarity between the bonobo and human beings that make them our close relatives in the animal kingdom, we cannot claim that we are identical.  Surely you must have heard of cases when the beautiful, clever sportswoman marries the ugly, weakling, unattractive youth of little promise shocking all her friends and family and vice versa? The predictability of individual human Choice is only probabilistic, although public choices, as the totality of large numbers of individual choices, can be predicted with great accuracy.