Infant murder drove monogamy reports ScienceNOW and ScienceDaily 29 July 2013 and ABC News in Science 30 July 2013. Two groups of scientists have been investigating why social monogamy, i.e. living in pairs, evolved. Quentin Atkinson of the University of Auckland, and colleagues, gathered data on 230 primate species and plotted them on an evolutionary tree and then used statistical methods to “re-run evolution millions of times across the family tree to discover whether different behaviours evolved together across time, and if so, which behaviour evolved first”.

Atkinson claimed: “We found that the only thing that cropped up regularly before you get the emergence of social monogamy is a high level of infanticide. That’s the evidence we use to argue the risk of infanticide might have been what drove social monogamy in primates”. The researchers suggest social monogamy evolved because males would guard their own infants from any murderous intentions by other males who desired the infant’s mother, and would kill the offspring so the desired female would be ready to breed again, because she no longer had an infant to nurture. Males could best be sure the infant they were protecting was theirs only if living in a mutually monogamous pair.

Meanwhile, University of Cambridge zoologists Dieter Lukas and Tim Clutton-Brock collected data on more than 2,500 mammalian species and found that “nine per cent of mammals are socially monogamous, including a few rodents, a number of primates, and some carnivores, like jackals, wolves, and meerkats”. They concluded that this monogamy developed in situations where males could not guard more than one female from other males, as occurs where there is a low density of females, with little overlap of home ranges. Clutton-Brock explained: “Where females are widely dispersed, the best strategy for a male is to stick with one female, defend her, and make sure that he sires all her offspring. In short, a male’s best strategy is to be monogamous”.

The study did not include humans, and Clutton-Brock commented, “It is debatable whether humans should be classified as monogamous. Because all the African apes are polygamous and group living, it is likely that the common ancestor of hominids was also polygamous. One possibility is that the shift to monogamy in humans may be the result in the change of dietary patterns that reduce female density. While another is that slow development of juveniles required extended care by both sexes. However, reliance by humans on cultural adaptations means that it is difficult to extrapolate from ecological relationships in other animals”.

ABC, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: The basis of human monogamy is clearly summed up by the Creator Christ who told the religious leaders of his day, “he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’”. (Matthew 19:4-5). Therefore, we can firmly state that human monogamy works because that is how the Creator designed human beings to function. It also means human beings have no right to re-define marriage, as has happened in many societies that sanctioned polygamy, and in current western countries who are busily redefining marriage to include homosexuality.

It is possible that animals and birds were once all monogamous as well. When God sent the animals to Noah to go on board the Ark God told Noah: Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. (Genesis 7:2-3) The brutish violent behaviour between male animals who just want to eat, fight with other males and have sex with as many females as possible is a degenerate behaviour, resulting from toughing it out in the fallen degenerate world, that has existed since man sinned and God judged the world. That kind of behaviour would have no place in the original “very good” world that God created.

And one last point needs to be made: animal behaviour, especially degenerate animal behaviour can never be used to explain, or excuse, human behaviour because humans are not mere animals. Man alone was separately and uniquely created in God’s image. (Ref. marriage, gender)

Evidence News 21 August 2013