Humans versus Animals
One of my favorite blog posts is Something About Ducks, and the first time I thought about defining monogamy. It was short and sweet, but meaningful because I was able to have a frank discussion about monogamy with a family member, and then get to geek out a little with some science. So, may I present to you a comparative post discussing the definition of monogamy in humans and the animal kingdom, and how that interpretation impacts us. Don’t worry, I won’t geek out too hard, and if you stick around until the end, you will find the link for the sexy, behind the scenes pictures I keep reserved for fans only.
Let us start at the beginning, with the definition of monogamy thanks to our lovely friends at Wikipedia: Monogamy is a form of relationship in which an individual has only one partner during their lifetime, or only one partner at a time (serial monogamy). And for a little fun, let’s compare to the definition of monogamy in the animal kingdom: Monogamous pairing refers to the natural history of mating systems in which species pair bond to raise offspring.
Did you catch that? It turns out that the very definition of monogamy is different depending on your species. We humans, adhere to a very strict definition of monogamy, while our counterparts in the animal kingdom are a little more fluid about it. In fact, many species are by definition monogamously pair bonded even if during the mating season one of them strays, so long as they return to continue raising their offspring.
So why are humans so strict about monogamy, and yet so flexible when it comes to animals. Why are we OK with accepting animals doing what they do, behaving in a way that has obviously allowed them to survive, and even flourish, and yet, so critical of humans exhibiting the same behaviours? Why are we so adamant to separate ourselves from animalistic instinct to sleep with more than one person? Obviously we could blame many things here, religion, politicians, the battle of the sexes, and let’s not forget sexually transmitted diseases and genetic protection. But talking about genes, can I share one more thing that I learned in my rabbit hole quest for knowledge? That scientists are currently working to discover the neuro-molecular genes that may lead to monogamy in animals.
Can you imagine if they find an actual mechanism that predicts or determines if a person will be able to maintain monogamy or not? This may not just be something that people do because they were raised that way, or want to for their children, or even just by sheer force of will alone. It might actually be deeper rooted than that, it may turn out that we have genetic indicators to determine if we are supposed to be non-monogamous or a monogamous species. Watching researchers trace monogamy in invertebrates and seeing where we branch off, or takes turns, and then following those shifts absolutely fascinates me. It’s one thing to trace our human origins of non-monogamy in such amazing book as Sex at Dawn, but to delve even further, into our animal counterparts and discover genetic material and our actual make-up?
Honestly, the impacts of this make me super excited. Mixing science, and knowledge, and a subject matter that has been my identity for what feels like a decade is just beyond… well… I think I am going to go formulate a few more posts to follow this up. The first thing that comes to mind is the comparison between the young raising cycles of humans and animals. And of course how this duel definition could impact our views of cheating, or infidelity. The possibilities are endless with science at our side. So please, if you have any suggestions you would like me to research or discuss feel free to share via Twitter or in the comments section of this blog as I would love to hear from you!
And as promised, here is the link to my behind the scenes photos… enjoy!