The Red Queen - Sex And The Evolution Of Human ...
The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature is a popular science book by Matt Ridley exploring the evolutionary psychology of sexual selection. The Red Queen was one of seven books shortlisted for the 1994 Rhône-Poulenc Prize (now known as the Royal Society Prizes for Science Books), that was eventually won by Steve Jones' The Language of the Genes. The title is in reference to the Red Queen hypothesis in evolutionary biology.
The Red Queen - Sex and the Evolution of Human ...
Ridley argues that few, if any, aspects of human nature can be understood apart from sex, since human nature is a product of evolution, driven by sexual reproduction in the case of sexual selection in human evolution.
The book begins with an evolutionary account of sex itself, defending the theory that sex flourishes, despite its energetic costs, primarily because a sexually mixed heritage confers to offspring a defensive "head start" against parasites received from and originally adapted to the maternal host environment.
Toward the end of the book Ridley argues that human intelligence is largely a result of sexual selection. He argues that human intelligence far outstrips any survivalist demands that would have been placed on our hominid ancestors, and analogizes human intelligence to the peacock's tail, a trait widely believed to be the result of sexual selection. Human intelligence, he suggests, is used primarily to attract mates through prodigious displays of wit, charm, inventiveness, and individuality. This view of Intelligence is treated at length in Geoffrey Miller's The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature (2001).
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Referring to Lewis Carroll's Red Queen from Through the Looking-Glass, a character who has to keep running to stay in the same place, Matt Ridley demonstrates why sex is humanity's best strategy for outwitting its constantly mutating internal predators. The Red Queen answers dozens of other riddles of human nature and culture - including why men propose marriage, the method behind our maddening notions of beauty, and the disquieting fact that a woman is more likely to conceive a child by an adulterous lover than by her husband.
The nature of human nature is the theme of the book, how it evolved, how human sexuality evolved. Reproduction is the sole goal for which human beings are designed. Nothing in our natures has not been carefully chosen. Reproductive success is the examination that all human genes must pass.
Human culture is a product of human nature, not just of our free will or invention. We have laws against racism that allow persons to calculate the consequences of violating them though they may be acting racist because of human nature.
The human brain developed current its form and capacity 3M to 100K years ago on African savanna--100K years is only 3000 generations ago. 30 generations back, in 1066, you had a billion ancestors [probably with considerable overlap]. The differences between individuals are attributable to individual variation (85%), tribal/national variation (8%), and racial variation (7%).
People are attracted to people of high reproductive potential, the consequences of which are sexual selection. Even behavior is adapted to this goal. We are descended from men who preferred fertile women. The goal is not just to survive but to breed. The human intellect itself has evolved to contribute to reproductive success.
What is the purpose of sex? It is the queen of evolutionary problems. Sex is bothersome and yet has persisted tenaciously. We have 75000 x 2=150000 genes in 23 pairs of chromosomes. Gametes have 75000 genes which have been intermixed (via recombination) in meiosis. Further mixing takes place when the gametes fuse (outcrossing). Thus the baby gets a thorough mix of the genes of the 4 grandparents.
Can human gender be preselected? Infanticide of females. High levels of maternal HCG increase prob. of female, and high testosterone in father of sons. But true control of gender as might be desired by dairy farmers has not proved possible despite considerable effort. Cultural variation in preference for boys versus girls. Daughters are preferred in poor cultures because they are more likely to lead to grandchildren, can marry up, etc. The ability to choose preferably the male sex would benefit the individual but would be a tragedy of the commons.
Harems and wealth. There is a polygyny threshold in which a suitably advantaged male attracts more than one mate, even in humans. It applies to humans regarding cattlemen of Kenya. Although first wives resent the new arrivals, the subsequent wives are receiving companionship, job sharing, and comfort (even career enhancement due to decreased responsibility). The mating system chosen is influenced by the distribution and population density of females.
Laura Betzig posited via historical review that power in cultures is used for sexual success. Young virgins are recruited and guarded. Emperors become breeding machines with "onerous" duties. There is always one legitimate queen with legitimate heirs.
Jealousy is deep seated in men, a human universal. The absence of jealousy in a husband is worrisome to a wife. Couples who exhibit occasional jealousy are more likely to stay together. Men are less accepting of infidelity in their wives--there is also a legal double standard [really?].
Brains are large in dolphins (1500 gm) in part to deceive. Lucy the Australopithecus afarensis had brain size 400 c.c.s (bigger than chimp, smaller than orangutan). Current human capacity is 1400 c.c.s. Brain growth occurred because of Red Queen sexual selection.
The head is the human equivalent of the peacock's tail according to sexual selection theory, but this connection is tenuous. Wit, virtuosity, inventiveness, and individuality turn people on. Be different.
Matt Ridley popularized the term in his book, The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, which contains numerous examples of the constant evolutionary arms race between competing individuals and species.
At the end of his book, Ridley introduces evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller, who argues in his book, The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature, that the choosiness of individuals in search of a mate led to an increase in intelligence, comparing the wit, inventiveness, and smarts of humans to the tail of a peacock:
Through the use of simple examples, an array of thought provoking exercises, and a coherent presentation of the evolutionary history of sex, Ridley challenges the reader to rethink his or her views on the diversity of the planet, even for our own species.
But I am sceptical. Sexual selection, particularly for exaggerated characters,works best as a theory of sex differences. It is only the peacocks, notthe peahens, who have the ridiculous tails. Sexual selection can work thesame way on both sexes in monogamous species; but then it usually producessensible things, rather than brains that are three or four times too big.I therefore suspect sexual selection is not the right place to look fora theory of the human brain; the organ is too similar in men and women.But this chapter contains much good material for all that.
Cyto-nuclear incompatibility, a specific form of Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibility caused by incompatible alleles between mitochondrial and nuclear genomes, has been suggested to play a critical role during speciation. Several features of the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA), including high mutation rate, dynamic genomic structure, and uniparental inheritance, make mtDNA more likely to accumulate mutations in the population. Once mtDNA has changed, the nuclear genome needs to play catch-up due to the intimate interactions between these two genomes. In two populations, if cyto-nuclear co-evolution is driven in different directions, it may eventually lead to hybrid incompatibility. Although cyto-nuclear incompatibility has been observed in a wide range of organisms, it remains unclear what type of mutations drives the co-evolution. Currently, evidence supporting adaptive mutations in mtDNA remains limited. On the other hand, it has been known that some mutations allow mtDNA to propagate more efficiently but compromise the host fitness (described as selfish mtDNA). Arms races between such selfish mtDNA and host nuclear genomes can accelerate cyto-nuclear co-evolution and lead to a phenomenon called the Red Queen Effect. Here, we discuss how the Red Queen Effect may contribute to the frequent observation of cyto-nuclear incompatibility and be the underlying driving force of some human mitochondrial diseases.
Figure 1. The arms race and co-evolution between selfish mitochondrial DNA and the host cell. Selfish mtDNA with a higher proliferation rate will gradually outcompete wild-type mtDNA in a sexual population. If the selfish mtDNA possesses harmful effects or carries other deleterious mutations, host fitness will be compromised after the selfish mtDNA reaches a certain frequency. When the selfish mtDNA is spreading through the population, the population starts to accumulate other mutations to restore the host fitness. Strong restoring mutations may occur in the nuclear genome that directly offset the harmful effect of the selfish mtDNA. Alternatively, weak restoring mutations may occur in both mitochondrial and nuclear genomes to compensate for the effect of deleterious mutations. In both scenarios, the evolved mitochondrial and nuclear genomes are different from the ancestral ones, but the host fitness remains the same. 041b061a72