Big Brains Sexy

Nothing sexier than big brains. A team led by Bruce Lahn at Howard Hughes Medical Center looked at 214 genes than influence brain development in mammals. They found the gene mutations that led to bigger, more powerful brains spread far more rapidly in proto-humans than in other mammals. One of Darwin’s profound insights was ‘sexual selection’ – the mechanism by which within-species mating competition works. Darwin saw that nature accepts many adaptations that do not confer survival advantage. The peacock’s tail is a vivid example. Sexual selection refers to the effect of mate choice within a species – if females prefer males with characteristic X, regardless of whether it aids survival or not, then that characteristic will spread among males. Similarly for male preferences among females (though for most mammals female choice is much more important). The rapid spread of big brains – even though biologically big brains are very ‘expensive’ – is strong evidence that people preferred mates who were funny, smart, thoughtful, sensitive, and so on – all the things big brains, and only big brains, can bring. (Original research in Cell, December 2004; reported in ScienceDaily.) (1/12)

Please follow and like us:

Related Posts

Chocolate, Testosterone, and Women

Aspirin, Ibprofin, and Pregnancy

Who Decides to Have a Baby

Love and Testosterone