Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sexual Selection

Here's an interesting little thing I recently read in The Economist. I am always fascinated by nature, and more specifically, the intense power and drive of a species to reproduce. Things we never think of, such as a rugged v. effeminate face, are instrumental in promulgating a species.

It is well established that facial features rated as masculine (square jawed, rugged, that sort of thing) are the result of high testosterone levels. There is good evolutionary reason why such features should be attractive, and it is that such faces also indicate a strong immune system.

One of the unfortunate side-effects of being male is a higher death rate, at any given age, than if you are female. Part of the cause of this is that testosterone suppresses the immune system, leaving high testosterone individuals particularly vulnerable to infection. So a man who has made it to sexual maturity despite his high testosterone levels probably has a particularly good immune system, which he can pass on to his children.


Anonymous said...

That is a really fascinating article - I am glad that you posted it. I definitely wouldn't have thought about the idea of a rugged v. effeminate face being instrumental in promulgating a species. It is also interesting to think about the idea that a man in sexual maturity would have a particularly good immune system, but at any age he is still more likely to die than a female. I would be interested in seeing more posts on topics such as this.