Charles Darwin re-shaped the course of science and civilization. But, as with all great thinkers, he spawned scores of interpreters who have chosen to carry out his work to what each believes are its logical conclusions. One of these interpretations was recently reported by CBSNews.com regarding mating research at Canada's McMaster University. What it suggests might have made Hugh Hefner blush and Darwin's wife wonder.
Here's the bottom line.
Research director Johnathan Stone wanted to know why menopause -- a given among humans -- is rare among the animal kingdom. His team's work suggests a provocative new theory. Namely that the female of the species has evolved in response to the fact males prefer younger women with whom to procreate. In effect their bodies have concluded: Why bother to remain fertile into old age? As computational biologist Rama Singh put it: "Women could otherwise be reproducing like men are for their whole lives."
Hugh Hefner -- uncrowned king of the old-man-needing-young-women syndrome -- would perhaps understand this research better than Mrs Darwin who remained faithful to her husband before, during and after menopause.
Evolutionary research like this -- a virtual constant these days as experts seem to be seeking to fit Darwin's square pegs into every behavioral hole they can find -- implies humans can be largely understood in evolutionary terms. In this case the research suggests "Men's preference for younger mates allowed genetic mutations to flourish that over time undermined the fertility of older women...."
If all this is true, does it mean female menopause is reversible? Or, as some reporters suggested, does this mean females refusing sex with men of a certain age mean male menopause might be the eventual evolutionary outcome? Hard questions to answer....
....but there is a simpler one to consider: How many of these Canadian researchers were women...?
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