SEX DIFFS Class Discussion Questions and Comments.


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WEEK 9: STUDENT QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS -- Human Sex Differences -- Overview
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In Louann Brizendine’s book The Female Brain, she discusses brain differences in biological development in both the female and male brain. She states that female babies less than twenty-four hours old are more responsive to distressed emotions than male babies. Further explaining her point, Brizendine cites than after a year of development, female babies still exhibit a tendency to console distressed individuals especially those with expressive facial expressions. Brizendine attributes this difference to the imbalance of estrogen distribution with exposure to males only being nine months and females twenty-four months. My question is, does a critical period of hormone distribution really impact the capacity to feel empathy for others? Do other characteristics such as aggression and jealousy formulate capacities in our earlier stages of life or can these behaviors be adaptive? Can our capacities change with regard to social conditioning and different developmental events? (5826)


There are proven differences between heterosexual male brains compared to homosexual male brains, as shown in the documentaries. The homosexual and female’s hypothalamus is one third of the size of the heterosexual’s hypothalamus. A woman from Brown said that this difference in the size of hypothalamuses cannot be simplified to the size of the structure, and that everyone is gay and straight to some extent. Her comment, attempting to ignore the significant differences in the size of hypothalamuses, did not make any sense to me. Those that are identifying themselves as gay, to some extent may be straight, but their identification is gay. Men that prefer the same sex have smaller hypothalamuses that those that prefer the opposite sex. Those that identify themselves as straight, to some extent may be gay, but identify their sexual preference as straight. These men have a larger hypothalamus than those who identify as gay. I do not understand how the women from Brown’s comment about everyone being both gay and straight makes the differences in hypothalamuses sizes insignificant. Even though people may be a mixture of gay and straight, those that are identifying themselves as gay have a different brain structure than those that are identifying themselves as straight. -5513


In the video, Mead’s book was found to be inaccurate about many aspects of Samoan life, and she was later reputed for it. My question is how often does this sort of thing happen in other fields of study? Is this a natural process, where researchers find something they believe to be true and are still proven wrong about later, or was this specific case more about Mead’s desire to be famous and recognized? If this sort of thing is not the phenomenon it was made out to be, why was this case so widely recognized, and so publicized? How many other times is it likely that a researcher finds out their findings are incorrect, but wishes not to set the record straight for fear of public humiliation? Why can’t we recognize that people learn over time, and that a person’s opinion at one moment may be different at the next, because knowledge never ceases? Isn’t it more important to be correct than to be labeled a hypocrite? (2742)


Margaret Mead is allotted much of the credit for disproving biological determinism by observing adolescent women in Samoa. Her findings proved that young women did not experience the same pubescent angst that most American teens undergo. In fact, Mead interpreted her findings to reveal that Samoans live an extremely promiscuous lifestyle that is encouraged in the same way that the Sexual Revolution encouraged women to explore their sexuality in the 1970’s. Her book reported positive findings, describing the Samoan society as one that is free of many of the cultural restraints that we experience today. Moreover, her findings demonstrated that Samoans at this time lived in a somewhat utopian world, free of jealousy and procession and unafraid of judgment. However, Mead neglected to completely immerse herself in Samoan culture and was later contested by research Derek Freeman who found the complete opposite of a utopian society. Although Mead’s findings were originally considered to reject the theory of biological determinism, the true culture of Samoa included rape, aggression, marriage, virginity, etc. If Mead has proven that biological determinism does not define human behavior, how would one explain the commonalities among the true findings of the culture in Samoa? Would Freeman’s accurate findings in Samoa, then, create a counter argument for biological determinism? Or at least that biology is causality of this behavior. (1205)

In the chapter is says that everything is a mixture of nature and nurture, but aren’t there things that seem to just be nurture? Like worldviews and opinions on different morals that have been instilled in us by people not biologically.-4183


Can society control the degree of which we utilize our genes? Society often goes through liberal and conservative periods. From the sexual liberation of the 60’s, the roaring 20’s, the Renaissance, and pre-Victorian against the strict 50’s and 80’s, the Victorian period, the Medieval ages and so forth. But during even the most sexually conservative times there are still instances of sex in many different forms, it is just more hidden. So does society really influence genes or does it just make it acceptable or unacceptable to express it in order to go along with social order. (4073)

As the analogy in Chapter 8 states, that a computer “must be programmed with domain-specific software… must know how to process certain times of information” thus describing that a human must also be programmed (cultural influence) and must know how to process the information (genes) in order to function properly. If one is not influenced by its culture (in a hypothetical situation, of course) what are the possible outcomes of this person. Will this person demonstrate the true phenotype that humans are supposed to be? Is it a possibly that every gene the person is predisposed to will be expressed without socialization? 1316

In class, we learned about the many difference between the sexes in humans when it comes to dating and sexual practices. Why would the sexes develop to be so different? Wouldn’t it make more sense for females and males to agree on these things rather than disagree? Is it more of an advantage to be different? To go along with this, in some instances, males will lie to females about their intentions, resources, promiscuity, etc. in order to gain the trust of and access to females. Did this develop as an advantage to males? Is this a way for them to get what they want without having to give into the females’ demands for resources and parental investment? Or is this a negative trait from both perspectives that just never left the gene pool? Is this the human version of the sneaker fish? And if that is the case, will these genes continue to be passed on because there is nothing the females can do to detect these deceptions? Will females develop the ability to detect this in males? -3969


Is it possible to think that the advancement of technology and high exposure to media could affect the way cultural societies nurture its inhabitants? Depending on each culture and its exposure to media and technology, could it affect how children are nurtured to grow up to fit what the media advertises or does biological aspects take over to shape a culture into gender differences? Would the gender differences still show when a society that lived in the 19th century with out advance technology still show the similar gender and sex differences? (2248)


There is a battle of the sexes raging between men and women, and efforts made to stop it only get blocked by the advancement of theories. A question I have in regards to male and female ideas of child rearing responsibilities doesn’t seem to be able to be answered by any cultural or biological influences theories. My question is, why, if men are culturally more of the hands off supporters of the family and women are biologically and culturally wired to look after children, how do some men go against most cultures and possess more Motherly instincts when it comes to raising children? Some fathers are the stay at home type, have motherly instincts that allow them to be the parental role typically held by females and the mothers. And how is it that some women feel completely dumbfounded when it comes to taking care of children if it is supposed to be in our human nature? -6108

During this weeks lecture and reading one question arose that I wondered the answer to? I was wondering if humans are influenced by the environment around them, if you took someone and placed them in a different culture or environment, how long would it take for them to adjust to the change? Or if it relies on nature vs. nurture will they ever adapt? Also, if nature was the case would they have no problems adapting, than if nurture was the case? (4442)


Can it be argued that the media is the biggest form of nurture, especially for teens and adolescents? How would an individual be if they were completely shut off from all forms of the media? Would they even be able to function in this society? Also, why weren’t men and women created to be more similar? Wouldn’t that decrease or eliminate the battle of the sexes? (4543)

An interesting idea I though if while reading this weeks material and watching the video of Somoa was how cultures differ, yet biologically we are the same. There were also discrepancies in the observations by Margeret Mead in her study of Somoan culture. I wonder, do we ascribe meanings to things like sexuality or gender roles in cultures and how afre they used differently? (6867)

Does the “Coolidge Effect” apply mostly to men? If the “Coolidge Effect” applies to women as well, what possible purpose(s) does it serve them? (7753)

I find it interesting that Margaret Mead was so convinced she was observing evidence of culturally driven sex differences when, in reality, she was not. In fact, her findings only seem to support the opposing understanding that sex differences are more biologically driven than they are culturally driven. Thinking about this, I couldn’t help but wonder why it’s so important for so many individuals both within and outside of the scientific community that sex differences be, at least in part, determined by cultural factors. Would either or both sexes gain or lose something(s) if scientists or psychologists found truly undeniable proof that sex differences are totally biological or totally cultural? (0798)

It is common knowledge that men and women contrast significantly in physical characteristics as well as behavior and mental processing as a result of sexually dimorphic adaptations. The question is, whether mating pairs are more successful/happy when these gender roles are exaggerated, resulting in a longer lasting relationship. Putting the fidelity issue of top-tier, financially successful men aside, do women feel more confident about themselves and their partner’s attachment? (And visa versa.) It is known that in the past, this diversity in sexually dimorphic adaptations promotes the survival of offspring, but does it actually make people happier in relationships? One would think that we are drawn to what we “like” in a mate, however men and women are constantly frustrated by each other’s gender-role differences, it seems. -4742


Is sexual infidelity embedded in nature or nurture? http://www.newsweek.com/id/232725 article says that men would be twice as more upset with womens sexual infidelity than emotional infidelity. Is this because men are more sexually varied than women, while women are more upset by emotional infidelity rather than sexual. Is there a difference in our dna, which causes the stress levels to be varied based on what type of infidelity we have, based on gender?(8554)

There are things that are definitely human nature and seem to have no influence from social context. I know that when members of all cultures experience happiness as an emotion, they express their emotions as a smile. It is an inherent trait in people all over the world. What other sorts of things are purely nature, and are there anything that are purely nurture? (9701)

Monogamy is a mating tendency that we as a society we tend to think of as unrealistic. If we are all meant to act as animals that why ignore our most basic instincts: liberation from our inhibitions. This very liberation can be translated to mean polygamy is the course of action we choose in relationships. But, as I came to discover through the ch.7 readings, monogamy is very common among varies birds. This could be because birds are not mammals and the irregularity of monogamy is more prevalent among mammals or because female internal gestation effects a males ability to help. Birds are more attractive to monogamy because eggs require two parents to incubate the eggs and the two parents are the ideal combination: why fix what already works.
I have always believed that monogamy was a preference among females but our class sessions proved to me that many men would choose a monogamous relationship over any other. So I must ask, why do people cheat if monogamy is a universal preference? This may be a question that I never find the answer to. I believe that as people commit themselves to a monogamous relationships, it is possible to consciously choose to be faithful: a cycle can be broken. (6070)






WEEK 7 & 8: STUDENT QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS -- Female Animals and Mating Systems
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One thing that I really found interesting was the results of the Hatfield and Clark study from 1982. The study asked men and women three questions:
1) Would you go on a date with me?
2) Would you come to my apartment?
3) And would you have sex with me?
About half of the men and women asked were willing to go on a date. The thing I found most interesting was that 75% of men were willing to have sex while 0% of women were. More men were willing to have sex than go on a date. I guess this is because of the investment involved in reproduction. For men, they can have sex and that is the end of the interaction. Because of the length of time women invest, they have to be much more selective. Because of this, they are less willing to have sex with someone they do not know. (0298)


When examining the mating strategies of Yellow-Bellied Marmots, their system is clearly one of polygyny (where one male secures a specific territory and attempts to collect and maintain sole proprietary rights to as many potential mating females as possible). The male reproductive strategy involves successful dispersal, locating females, establishing territory, and shifting energy to defense. The major female reproductive strategy is the formation of matrilines, or mother/daughter groups, which facilitates the acquisition of resources and increases reproductive output. The formation of these matrilines does, however, increasse reproductive competition. Because of these matrilines, female marmots are aggressive against other female marmots not within their matriline to the point of killing the others offspring. This then causes a conflict between the males and females because the female competition limits the number of females weaning litters. If both of the reproductive strategies within this species have direct conflicts with one another, then are they able to coexist without a change in one gender or the others reproductive strategy?? −9923



A female choose a mate subconsciously by good genetic fitness. IF a man lives to reproductive age shouldn’t he already be considered genetically fit. And how could a women subconsciously decide which gene is better between two that have survived?-4183
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1. My question involves rape that occurs in multiple species. Why is does it seem acceptable and tolerated? It is a very extreme difference when compared to our lives. It seems natural and common with other specie
2. Are there human cultures that practice polygny, polyandry, and promiscuity? How do they operate differently from cultures that are monogamous?
-4543

As we have been discussing, in the human species, it is the female that is choosier when determining who she will reproduce with. In other species with similar behaviors, it is the male who displays the brilliant, colorful and/or impressive physical qualities or features in order to attract the female and allow him to reproduce with her. Why is it then, that in the human species, it is the female that displays the brilliant, colorful and/or impressive physical qualities such as make-up, more colorful clothing, and more elaborate hairstyles? (1333)

I know that in humans certain religious sects still practice polygamy. In the animal kingdom there are many species that do so successfully and use this mating behavior to their advantage for breeding. How is it that humans have evolved or regressed in this particular mating behavior and why does the behavior work for some humans and not all of them? (6867)

The textbook discussed females’ tendency to test males’ sincerity through a long period of courtship. Evolutionary-wise, this process would ensure that the male is committed to the female, and therefore would commit himself to being a good father to their offspring. However, our generation has immersed itself in a “hookup culture,” and females are therefore not testing males’ paternal behavior. Has something gone wrong in the evolution of today’s young adult females? Or do they merely not care as much about reproducing as did their ancestors? (3365)

How does the “Bruce Effect” work? The textbook states that infanticide can be committed in some species without males having to wait for the female to give birth. The infanticide is said to be caused when a pregnant female mouse smells the scent of a new male, but does not offer further explanation. Is the fetus automatically terminated in the womb by the female’s body when she picks up this new scent? In what other species does this occur? Is it rare? (7753)

While females tend to avoid copulation during times of hardship, I believe this is not universal. An example of this is the high birthrate in 3rd world countries. Due to a greater level of hardship in the 3rd world, whether it is economic, social, or political, we should see a lower level of birthrate in these areas. Yet, the opposite is true. It would be interesting to see a study of birthrates in various countries in regards to the recent economic recession. I expect birthrates would have dropped in 1st world countries, namely the Western world. Conversely, I believe they would increase in the 3rd world. Why do humans not subscribe to less copulation in times of hardship compared with other animals? (3032)

It is known that human females are choosier when it comes to selecting a partner, resulting in a group of low-status males being partner-less. It is also pretty common knowledge that women are constantly struggling to keep these high-status, good looking males that they have chosen to themselves. Now as birth control becomes much more commonly available, reliable, and socially acceptable to use, will this result in a more equal status pairing of males and females? That is, will women of high status be more likely to mate with men of equal status or lower, “leveling out” the playing field so that there is a more even distribution of class systems? Will this solve the problem of infidelity of high-ranking males (who now can mate with women of equal status)? It was proposed with the increased used and social ridding of the taboo use of contraceptives, are women actually bettering themselves and on the way to more successful monogamous relationships? (4742)




Are the human species (male and female) polygamists by nature? Has culture or social norms forced us into monogamy? (Look back in time- when males had multiple partners)
Or are we monogamists by nature, but has culture forced us into polygamy? (The culture of the younger generation where having multiple partners is not considered taboo in a casual relationship)----(8554) Change 0 of 0
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The “Biological Marriage Contract” is the theory that explains the exchange of male paternity assurance for female fidelity amongst various species. This theory appears to explain how, given the Coolidge Effect, men would see incentive in pursuing monogamous relationships. Furthermore, the violation of the marriage contract leads to divorce or separation between the monogamous couple. In chapter 7 of our text, the notion of Extra-Pair Copulations –EPCS are introduced. This is explained has using different mates for various reasons i.e. choosing one mate for genetics and food and choosing the other for parental investment. However, if this is the case, how would the non-biological parent procreate for his own genetic benefit? It would seem that, given what we have learned about intersexual competition and mate guarding, these males would not cooperate with the idea of raising another male’s young. Thus, based on everything we learned, how is the existence of Extra Pair Copulations beneficial for the male?


In the 1960s, there was an incredible woman's movement in the United States. This, along with the widespread use of new contraceptive devices, such as the Birth Control Pill, was thought by some to "free" women. Many thought that women would from that point on take part in sex with an average of as many multiple partners as males; however, although this happened with some women, it hasn't happened with most. With the use of many different contraceptive devices, will women ever be able to evolve away from being more "choosey" than men, or will a fundamental emotional "motherhood" mentality always be rooted in the female species? (8782)




I saw a video and have read some information about different female species taking care of and mothering babies of different species. For example, in one video, it showed a female dog who had lost all of her puppies, take in a group of abandoned kittens and breast feed them. Why is it that sometimes females have an insane amount of motherly nature, despite the fact that it is quite obvious that they are not the mother? Males across species, on the other hand, seem to not even want to waste their time and energy raising a child if they are not a hundred percent certain of their paternity. (8782)



If some species have sperm competition, will there come a point in time when males make an overabundant amount of sperm? As was in the reading, in species where females can potentially have more than one mate (which is virtually true across species), males are in constant fighting with the sperm who can reach the female’s ovum the fastest and more efficiently hence those with more sperm have more of a chance of reproducing. Chances are that physically, males are going to change because those who are reproducing more are going to have larger sacs to contain their sperm. How will that affect the males? Will they be weighed down and negatively affected physically. Will that increase testosterone levels and cause them to be more aggressive? Will the increase “knowing of parenthood” for this larger males increase their “father abilities” for their offspring? -1316


Studies have shown that children need a father’s rough-and-tumble play to learn how to control aggression. Statistically, children who grow up without a father are more likely to have uncrontrolled aggression, join gangs, and land in jail. In other words, children growing up without a father figure are at a disadvantage. Therefore, why are men programmed to reproduce and then die off? In the case of the elephant seal, it is common for the male to die of exhaustion after mating season. Does this put his children at a disadvantage? Why haven’t men adapted to live as long as women? (3365).
In the past few weeks of the course, I’ve learned that there is more to consider when comparing the sexes. In my midterm review study session I realized that the sex differences between men and women are highly underestimated. However, I am more interesting in the oddities and sex puzzles in the course. In the videos that we had to watch leading up to the midterm, I was interested in the biology of homosexuality. It is an interesting notion that it is possible to be exposed to hormones in the womb that can alter your sexual preference. In addition to this, I found it interesting that the more older brothers a man has the more like he is to be gay. From this standpoint, it almost seems like the source of the deviation is either the mother’s womb or the effect of the older brothers’ effect on the hormones that are within the womb. But who's to say which is to blame (6354).

There are a few species of animals that copulate for pleasure rather than solely for reproduction. In species like dolphins have their reproductive strategies changed to breed monogamously or have they managed to adapt in a way that reproduction is no longer a concern. Does this change come about due to genetic evolution or due to reproductive evolution?

Why is it that there is female preference for sexual adaptations, such as peacock tails, when this will lead to there offspring also having this problematic adaptiation. This tail will make it more difficult to live till sexual maturity and might cause offspring death rather then benefit. -4183

We have been talking in class about how the females in a species are more likely to test the males of a species to quantify their willingness to commit to their offspring. In the past few days, this sort of interaction between the genders has manifested itself in my own life. I made an effort to comment on the fact that i understood where the member of the other gender was coming from, and that it wasn't her fault she was crazy because it was in her biology, apparently, due to the other gender difference in logical thinking, this didn't go over so well either. I suppose these things we're learning are true. (9701)


Something I found interesting while reading about female reproductive techniques was that a majority of species in the wild call for the male to be the competitor. This allows the female to store her energies towards reproduction and raising the young. I feel as though in our human nature, females are the primary sex which is scrutinized as far as picking a partner, so therefore must use more effort to attract a mate. At the same time, human females have one of the longest and most difficult pregnancies, births, and child rearing responsibilities. I would think that females should be the authority in the matter of reproduction, despite the males ‘need to spread his seed’. Why would our society be this turned around according to ways of Mother Nature? - 6108

In class, we learned about several other species that engage in rape. This made me wonder if rape was just a totally natural thing and just another one of nature’s cruel realities. Also, in species where males are much larger or much more dangerous than the females, females do not really have a choice in who they mate with. The females in this case must give into the demands of the male so as to not get hurt. For humans, these things are seen as wrong. We believe that sex should be consensual on both sides and that there should never be forced sex. Even though it appears as though we are one of the species who engage in rape, is it possible that because of how evil we believe it is that rape will stop showing up in humans? Is it something genetic that, with better technology, we might be able to fix before it can affect a person? (3969)

I find it interesting on how males have an impulse to compete with other males for the female. It kind of seems a reverse role where males are considered the dominating species in social aspects of lifestyles in humans and animals. But in the mating department, females have the last say and determine if a male is worthy enough to be her mating partner. In male competition, status, looks, and actions seem to win the hearts of the females. However, it is not common to find a man/male species with a high status, good genes and possibly paternal assurance, these characteristics are seen to be rare, especially in the human species. So what happens is that the average/below average male population starts to increase, and so will probably mate with average/below average females. Is it possible to increase the population of offspring with high status and good genes or would it be better to mate a high status male/female with an average male/female to even out the competition and make mating easier? (2248)

As we learned in class, in many species where females have a choice with who they choose to mate with, the males will make themselves appear more attractive to impress the females and make themselves stand out as a viable potential mate. Examples include peacock feathers, mallard ducks, and other mammals. Why is it that human females feel the need to “peacock” themselves to impress and attract men. It is reasonable to assume that it is to attract the successful and powerful men. However this raises the question; if animal males feel the need to be more attractive, but human females are the ones dressing up in our species, then what is more important, attracting a good father or a good mother?(5039)

In this chapter, the female problem of choosing a time for pregnancy is discussed. It talks about how many times, if the female knows she cannot support or provide for her offspring, she will deliberately not get pregnant in order to save herself from the burdens of childbirth only to have a child that will not survive. This happens in times of scarcity and famine, as the female is aware that she could not possibly provide enough for her offspring to reach maturity. My question is why humans don’t practice more of this technique in times of hardship. Although this does seem to be a trend in developed nations, many developing or third world countries still rely on more offspring, even in hard times. It can be argued that these larger numbers of children could help aid the family in labor and lead to increased profits. However, it is likely that most children born during hard times would not survive to a working age, and would be taking up resources that the stronger children could be using to ensure their survival. If parents were to have fewer children, they would be more likely to survive to maturity, and would also be stronger than they would have if there were more children to feed, as they would have had more resources. Why are these practices not used more often by humans? (2742)




WEEK 4: STUDENT QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
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One aspect of this section's lecture that was particularly interesting was the concept of DNA as being soley motivated by the chance to clone itself. I think we tend to only think of complex animals and insects (including ourselves) as having the cognitive complexity neccessary to have instincts and motivations, no matter how base or straightforward they may be. However if you think about it, our molecules are the buildling blocks to our lives, so why shouldn't these motivations exist on even the most basic level?
Therefore with the understanding that complexity must arise from simplicity, we can understand how humans are the great grand children of amoebas. Yet if all evolution has historically been geared towards the continuation of life and lineage, it seems that even the theory of "simplicity to complexity" cannot explain how complex our human species' construction is. For example, why do we dream? Why do we philopsophize? Why do we have selfish desires for abstract things like fame, status, and power? Taken in totality, the development of the grab-bag of human cognition and emotion seems a bit counterintuitive to nature's plan to simply get us to have sex and procreate. What purpose does our particular complexity serve, especially when so much of human behavior seems to impede our simple process of procreation, rather than enhance it? (0645)

The Coolidge Effects states that males tend to demonstrate a high level of sexual performance when continuously presented with novel partners. In the human species, this notion does not come as a shock to us as we are all aware of the promiscuity that male members of society idealize and pursue. As girlfriends, we are constantly attempting to tempt our boyfriends to commit to us exclusively but, generally, there is a certain level of resistance.. Although this resistance might be explained by the Coolidge effect, there are other aspects of human behavior that seem to contradict this effect. From an evolutionary perspective, one would assume that males demonstrate the instinct to continuously seek new sexual partners in order to maximize procreation and promote their own genes into future generations. However, if procreation and genetic variability are what is best for not only the gene but the species as a whole, why are we as human beings driven to seek life partners in which we maintain sexually exclusive relationships? Yes, the institution of marriage is a social construct that our society imposes on us, but if it is not technically for the good of the species, why are we so inclined to pursue it? The Coolidge Effect seems to state that males have the innate tendency to seek new sexual partners and, so, with this being the case, why do females even try to get them to settle down when it is against the ideals of evolution?

In the textbook, we read about how much work it actually is to reproduce and be a mating and parenting species. Though I prefer this way of life, probably because I don’t know any differently, I cant help but wonder what it would be like if we were all our own mates. If humans were asexual rather than a race that sought out partners, how much would our race change over time? Would we all become a mostly replicates of our previous generation only changing those qualities that must adapt? How would our mental processes change? How would this affect our society that is so focused on love and sexuality? [6108]


My question has to do with the concept of parental manipulation discussed in the textbook. I suppose I understand the concept behind a parent would wanting to compromise the reproductive potential of an offspring as a means of increasing its own reproductive success or that of another offspring, but considering how difficult and how taxing sexual reproduction is, and how difficult it is to produce offspring, why would such a thing as parental manipulation be practical? Why go to the trouble of raising an offspring to reproductive age only to rob that offspring of his/her ability to reproduce? It makes sense that a parent would prioritize his or her own reproductive potential over that of his/her offspring, but why have offspring if they wont be able to pass the parent’s genes on to the next generation? (0798)


I understand the basic concepts of evolution and natural selection. What I do not understand is how we actually change. After enduring certain environmental conditions for extended periods, do our bodies begin to naturally morph and mutate themselves?
I understand that individuals who carry “successful traits” will pass these traits on in their genes to their offspring and those who carry “unsuccessful traits” will not survive to reproduce and will thus become extinct in nature. I just do not quite understand how these genes/traits continue to change as time persists. For example: if a group of human beings were trapped within the bounds of a high walled city, over millions of years, would they slowly evolve into beings that had wings so that they could fly to escape the bounds of the walls in order to continue survival? (7753)



What I find astonishing is the degree at which males can reproduce. Though I understand that their gamete cells use significantly less “energy” and are smaller, the time window for males to produce offspring seems to be more advantages for males since they can technically reproduce for decades after women. Is this a way of nature telling the human race that the genes of males are better for the race and as long as they have enough women of the “ripe age” from the time of puberty until basically they die, they will have more offspring. I think that is where the moral debate comes into play and Mother Nature takes a step back. Some will argue that as humans, we have a moral obligation to essentially stop reproducing. I still cannot help to think though if humans were in a so-called “natural state” would the male nature of reproducing themselves be the intended course for our species? (1316)

  1. It has been made clear that men typically have a higher sex drive compared to women. Could this have anything to do with the fact that men produce more sperm then women produce eggs?
  2. Is the desire to be a parent purely something inside us that has to do with evolution and continuing the human race? Or is it a desire we have because we want to be a parent? Maybe a mixture of both? I definitely want to be a mother. I love children and I want a big family. But is this because of my evolutionary duties?(4543)

  1. In evolutionary theory, males are more indiscriminate when it comes to choosing sex partners. It is low cost to produce sperm and the more the male procreates the more likely his genes will live on. But it is theorized that men tend to choose mates that are “nubile” and youthful as they are more likely to have fertile eggs and less likely to have existing offspring with other males. But what has caused the recent rise in young males dating older women? The term “milf” or “couger’’ is a term used to describe women who “prey” on younger men. Is it sex role reversal where the woman takes care of the men?
  2. The male employs certain strategies the offspring of his mate is his. “Cuckoldry” is the term used. Things such as aggression and jealousy are some of the behavioral techniques. But how can evolutionary theory explain men who marry women who have children from a previous marriage? It would make more sense for the male to reject a women with kids as he has to support them rather then his own. (4073)

Women are regarded as the more picky sex when it comes to choosing a mate, as compared to men. It has been determined that this is because females are more invested in the offspring, since they not only have to carry it to term for none months, but also because they are the primary caretaker of the child at least until it is able to fend for itself. Because of this, the female wants to make sure the offspring will have the best possible genes to carry with it into the next generation and also that the male will stay with the female and aid in the upbringing of the child. If females are looking for a mate that will commit and aid them in caring for the child, why do many women choose men that are so obviously less than ideal? Many women are paired with men that either decides to leave them alone to raise the child, or stay but do nothing to support her or the child, both emotionally and physically. Evolutionarily speaking, men like this should have died out because women would never choose someone who is not going to help them raise a child, and yet these men still exist and become fathers on a regular basis. This implies that mating and reproduction are not solely evolutionary drives, but also psychological issues. What is the psychology behind choosing a less-than-optimal mate? (2742)
We talked about how humans had domesticated dogs and that it was considered artificial evolution. I’d imagine this was because we bred them to do certain tasks and rewarded them for it so they eventually lost their primal instincts? And if dogs came from wolves how did we come up with these stupid little toy dogs that serve no purpose at all?
We also talked about how gametes are more efficient when they are the medium size. Large ones are adequate but take more energy and small ones are inefficient. How did the medium sized ones somehow weed their way out of our system? Why are they extinct? (4247)

A few weeks ago, we learned that although the averages on certain tasks and qualities is very similar in both males and females, the deviation and variation in males is much greater than that in females. We then learned that it is variation in species that allows them to evolve. For example, there were probably giraffes with lots of variation, such as giraffes with both long necks and giraffes with very short necks. It was because of this variation that the species survived at all, the long necked giraffes were able to reach the healthy leaves on the tall trees. Could it be then, that human males have the ability to evolve more than human females due to the greater variation they possess? If our environment changed, would males have a better chance of evolving and surviving? (8782)


Humans evolved in a fast paced and ever changing environment. It was not only the survival of the fittest that proved to be successful but also those who could adapt. These adaptations created sex because reproduction asexually was not ideal in the climate and environment that humans live in. Tiny creatures like germs, bacteria, and viruses, have the ability to attack and wipe out generations and species. The best defense against this would be to have as many different offspring as possible to guard against infection of the disease. It is interesting to see how sex derived out of this necessity to combat the diseases. There are however diseases that can be transfered sexually which begs the question: How will humans adapt to viruses like AIDS/HIV that thrive and transfer sexually? (6867)

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/news/070701_cheetah
The link above talks about the bottleneck effect that cheetahs have been experiencing for around the last 10,000 years (since the last ice age). In the years to come, the situation only got worse with poachers and encroachment on their natural environment. For a long time it seemed that it was only a matter of time before the cheetah was a thing of the past. As of recently, scientists have discovered that the females in the living cheetah population are becoming as promiscuous as the males. This goes against the "natural" order of things, being that males are usually the ones to have multiple partners. It seems that the females have discovered that without this sort of change, their species will fail to survive. This emphasizes the idea that nature and nurture work with each other, and it is never just one or the other. (9701)

Since each individual today is in competition with others of its own species to out-reproduce them. We know that this same thing happens on the gene-level to make it to the next generation. If we were to look at the gene that is the cause of stupidity since it seems that the more advanced we become as a civilization the less intelligent society seems to get as a whole. If we were to find a gene that was cause of stupidity would we be able to evolve into a society that could be more intelligent rather than less intelligent. Things that help to increase our level of stupidity surround us and we do not notice it but all of the television, advertisements, the Internet and many more things that happen in our daily life. Can we as a civilization evolve to rid ourselves of stupidity?

Due to the fact that women are the default gender, and the carrier of children, women are the more necessary of the two genders. This allows women to be more selective when choosing a mate. From an evolutionary standpoint, women want to provide strong offspring, so they will choose the more superior of the men to be their mate. This is seen in the example of the giraffes. Females choose the male giraffes with the longer necks because they are able to reach the majority of the food and appear strong, and females are attracted to this because they want to produce strong children. If it were not for the fact that society influences women and men to produce children through a monogamous relationship, the world wouldn’t require a 50/50 men and women. We learned that the world’s population would be more efficient if women were 90% of the population. However, this is not the case in our society and psychologically women like sharing in the responsibility of raising a child. Is monogamy a necessary tool in population management? (5039)

From an evolutionary perspective on our society, it would make sense for females to heavily outweigh males as we have learned and read. A male can impregnate many females without investing nine months of pregnancy and birth. In terms of evolution, it would make the most sense for there to be 99 females to 1 male, and have the single male impregnate all of the women. This way, the population grows at a rapid and efficient rate. In the text and in our class discussions we have determined that there is generally a pretty equal ratio of females to males, which doesn’t seem to make any sense. If having more females is more beneficial, why didn’t evolution step in? Furthermore, if it is beneficial for there to be more females based on reproductive advantages, why do females have such rare fertility? Not only does ovulation occur very seldom, but females are not sexual capable of reproducing until puberty and, one females mature into old age, they also cannot reproduce. If the fate our of population rests in the hands of our society’s female fertility rate, then why are females only fertile every so often? Why has this trait proven beneficial to females/ the human population over time? (1205)

One thing I'd like to comment on is the fact that we lose fifty-percent of our DNA when we reproduce. Although you never know what your child is going to look like, I think the beauty of the fact is that we don't get a complete replica of ourself. We get the perfect mixture of one another manifested in another human being. And even though it may be selfish to have children given the overpopulation of the world, it could be viewed as even more selfish to want an exact replica of yourself in the world. Mixing the genes makes your child something special and different, someone who has never existed on this planet ever before. (2968)

According to the text, sexual reproduction is costly and risky (Mills & Mealy, 1999). Our genes get lost, we are required to expend hundreds of calories in the process, and we run the risk of contracting diseases (Mills & Mealy, 1999). It makes much more sense to reproduce asexually. If that were the case, would we see new adaptations through evolution? For instance, belly buttons are a mere by-product even now with sexual reproduction. Would they disappear entirely with asexual reproduction? Women would have no need for a uterus, and men would have no need for sperm. Would we see a disappearance of these as well? (3365)

What I found interesting in this weeks reading was the rate that males can reproduce. I think it is odd how much men can reproduce compared to the rate of women. Why was our species not created asexually since men can reproduce so much and women so little? That way offspring would be given one hundred percent of their parents genes and not just fifty percent. After I started thinking about this for a while I thought maybe our race wasn’t created to be asexual for the reason of evolution through natural selection. I thought if an offspring had two species genes there might be more of a chance for evolution because one parent might be exposed to different circumstances than the other. (4442)



I found it interesting how the different levels of selection can make or break the survival of a species. With animals there are various survival concepts in order to survive in a specific environment, certain genes and characteristics about an animal can alter and change the future generations. For example, lizards have developed genes in their reproductive process to possess a camouflage skin to avoid predators from eating them. This has helped lizards and various other animals to survive longer and reproduce more offspring. In relation to humans, we also have developed similar genes and characteristics from our offspring, but yet our main structure is still intact we still have 4 limbs a brain and function with a beating heart and lungs. With all the variable selection processes its interesting to see that we have not developed another species or interrupted the basic genotype process with all of our reproductive rituals and mixture of genes. In the long run, is it possible that the effect of our environment could alter the genes and basic structure of humans to develop a new species? (2248)



In class, we talked about adaptations, exaptations, by-products, and random noise. When discussing this, I thought about the different parts of the body and what category they would fall under. However, I was confused when it came to the appendix. I have heard that it was an adaptation for our ancestors, but now we do not need it. Although some have speculated there are possible advantages to having an appendix, many live perfectly normal lives without one. What category would the appendix fall under? Even if it was once an adaptation, it does not seem to be one any more. Would we now consider it a by-product? Or is it still considered an adaptation even though we do not use it for its “intended” purpose anymore? Or, is it possible that it never had a purpose at all? In that particular case, what category would it fall under?

In class, we talked about adaptations, exaptations, by-products, and random noise. When discussing this, I thought about the different parts of the body and what category they would fall under. However, I was confused when it came to the appendix. I have heard that it was an adaptation for our ancestors, but now we do not need it. Although some have speculated there are possible advantages to having an appendix, many live perfectly normal lives without one. What category would the appendix fall under? Even if it was once an adaptation, it does not seem to be one any more. Would we now consider it a by-product? Or is it still considered an adaptation even though we do not use it for its “intended” purpose anymore? Or, is it possible that it never had a purpose at all? In that particular case, what category would it fall under? (3969)

In the reading, I found it particularly interesting that later born-males belong to sibships of mostly boys. This is explained to be a result of sibling rivalry in which older siblings may manipulate the younger in order to reduce mate competition. Although this is only one illustration model of homosexuality could it be that homosexuality results from a combination of the models explained in the book? While reading this, it made me analyze my homosexual family member. He not only is the youngest brother of 5 but also is the one sibling who helps kin survive. So behaviorally, is homosexuality influenced by the environment rather than genetic or a combination of both? I am just astonished by how many ways there are to understand and interpret homosexuality. (6553)

From the reading, I found the behavior of discriminatory parental solicitude very interesting. In the case of humans, it seems the practice of favoritism is less prevalent than it may have been in generations past, both in the more obvious or calculated favoritism practices (selective inheritance or schooling opportunities) as well as in the less obvious practices (allowance of sibling rivalries). I wonder what the reason is for this. Is it due to a more modern social trend toward equal rights? Or is it more of an evolutionary behavior due to the strength of our species/population? I also wonder how much of this behavior is on a conscious level and how much is subconscious. Clearly the act of selective inheritance is a conscious decision, but I wonder how much of the allowance of sibling rivalry behaviors is conscious and how much is subconscious. (1333)



WEEK 3: STUDENT QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
The studies of Dr. LeVay have some very interesting findings. One of the findings I see as very intriguing is the fact that of the heterosexual male’s hypothalamus being almost twice the size of a homosexual male. My understanding of why males have larger hypothalamus is due to testosterone and the fact they their biological mantra so to say is “place more seeds to produce more”. So essentially it seems to be is that gay men seem to have a “female brain”. My question then is; was there not enough testosterone or not enough MIH during gestation that causes the male’s brain not to become fully masculinized? Is there an opposite effect in female homosexuals?
What LeVay’s work shows is that being a male homosexual is purely due to biological factors; that is nothing in the environment ever probed one to become homosexual. If that is true, what happens to the female who get molested by males and can never trust males again therefore becoming homosexual? What does it mean when one dates people of the opposite sex but then one day decides they would rather date people of the same gender; were they always gay but did not want to admit it? What follows suit if this is a purely biological “condition” as the video brings up, surely parents will want to know if their child will be gay or not; and if so an entire ethical debate about “terminating the homosexuals” may arise. (1316)
My question involves the correlation between homosexuality and high-stress during pregnancy. Our textbook and the videos we watched during class both mention this, but neither gives an explanation as to what about stress or stressful situations could result in a fetus being homosexual. Our textbook didn’t really make a connection between fetal development and a mother’s Hypothalamo-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis (HPA), which as I understand it is responsible for the feeling we experience as “stress” or “fear,” but I was wondering if it might be involved, in any specific way, in the events which ultimately result in a heterosexual male or female fetus becoming homosexual.
Our textbook explains that the feeling we experience as “stress” or “fear” is the result of different hormones being released via the HPA, and other areas of the body, which ultimately causes corticosteroids to be released into the blood. Could it be this interaction of different hormones and the higher-than-normal presence of corticosteroids in a mother’s body, particularly at the high rates that would be experienced by mothers living in areas devastated during WWII, which influences the fetal brain in such a way that the fetus’ sexual orientation is affected?
I don’t know very much about what corticosteroids do, but in class we’ve talked a lot about how powerful hormones are and how even minor hormonal fluctuations (let alone those which occur during stressful situations) can result in significant changes within our brains and our bodies. Could it be that hormonal fluctuations in the mother’s body as a result of stressful situations not only effect her but the growing baby inside her as well? (0798)
One of my main questions about the lecture was about Turners Syndrome. The who concept of this gender atypicality is amazing to me. The way we talked about Turners Syndrome in class seemd as if the transition from appearing female and then appearing male is generally easy and not a difficult transition simply because of their pre-exsiting male brain. To me, this seems completely unbelievable that it would be such a smooth transition. I mean consider being a twelve or thirteen year old going throuh puberty, at this stage in life, one is typically more self-conscious that at most other times in life. This paired with the gender transformation seems as if it would be extremely difficult socially and emotionally on the child. Are there support goups even though this syndrome is present in on ly 1 in 5000 people? Do people with Turners identify with transgendered individuals? Do that have lower levels of self-esteem, higher incidences of suicide, depression, etc? (8782).
My Question for discussion is: Now that the world’s races are becoming increasingly intermixed and thus the genetic make-up of the population groups becoming more diverse, will we as a human race be stronger, more intelligent, and capable of higher-order thinking and complex tasks? So although our physical make-up has remained quite constant (with the exception of our particular features becoming more mixed with the mixing of race), how will this affect the mind and our capability to survive as a species, is a question one could ask. Also, as we begin to harness the knowledge of genetic engineering, will we be able to eliminate weakness in our species altogether? Will this result in us actually living longer?
With an increased rate of survival—and thus an increased population rate, how will the world be able to adapt to support such a large increase in its populous? We will rely so greatly on technology that every aspect of our livelihood will depend on how we are able to grow food, where to store it, and how to even shelter ourselves. Thus the population must be limited in some way. Perhaps we will resort to a Brave New World culture… (4742)
We discussed the different biological mutations that cause different sexual abnormalities and how they affect the psyche of those who live with it. Chapter 2 also covers the different sexual types. Has there been any research done that shows that homosexuality or heterosexuality stem from different a chemical makeup in the brain or are there external factors that play a role in sexual orientation? If there has been research done that says that it is based upon a different chemical makeup why is there so much debate over marriage rights aside from the religious argument?

With all of the research that has been done in regards to the differences in the male and female brain why have these results not been bridged over into the workforce and different job placement positions? It is rather apparent that the male and female brains are extremely different and have shown that different sexes would perform better at different tasks. Since the male brain is wired for activities like math, quantitative reasoning, and cognitive abilities people should be aware of this and place men in positions that will allow them to maximize their talents. The same should be done for women so that everyone can do the most work possible and use their best talents. Also jobs should try to focus on the skill they were brought in to do rather than multiple skills some which are insufficient. This can be seen as difficult to do since there is a wide range of variation in how men scored in tests.


The brains of men and women are much more different than I would have thought. From previous classes I knew they were different from one another but the amount that is pointed out in examples in the text was far more than even crossed my mind. The two main parts that caught my attention were the difference in the hippocampus, and the idea brought up about the ‘Mounting’ behaviors and the ‘mounting receiving’ behaviors. The behaviors seem to be male oriented, with respect to the sole goal of procreation. The male’s action all lead to his orgasm to ejaculate semen in to the females vagina. The female’s actions all seem to facilitate the male in completing what he is set out to do. What interested me even more was that there is no known reason for the female orgasm, if not for pleasure, other than some possibilities of assisting the sperm into the cervix. In copulation in order to impregnate the female the male is thought to need to orgasm, though it is possible to impregnate with out ejaculation, however the female’s orgasm is the typical goal if conception is the sole reason for intercourse. As far as the difference in size with the hippocampus the idea that polygamy is more common with larger hippocampi is makes me wonder whether the search for multiple sexual partners is correlated in humans just as it is in rats, as mention in the text. (6163)

One subject that I thought was interesting was abnormal sex chromosomes. I thought it was odd how in Turners Syndrome children would be born with only one X chromosome. So the pairing would result in a female being born with a matched chromosome XO. One question this raised for me was why is there no YO chromosome? I also thought it was extremely interesting that only one X chromosome would be fertilized and not a pair. I was also interested in the fact that females who have this syndrome still turn out the same way that other XX chromosome women would. That there gender identities determine who they are and not so much the makeup of their bodies.
Another subject I wanted to learn more about and that I thought was intriguing was the fact that inside the womb all newly conceived babies are women and that later in the growing process some start changing to males. I thought why not the other way around? Why is it that they change from female to male and not male to female? (4442)

In class, we discussed how those males with androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) develop neither male nor female genitalia and therefore cannot reproduce. Externally they look female, but they are genetically male. However, the vagina is classified as being “shallow.” Would this mean that this individual could not engage in sex? If they were to try, would there be a lot of pain and internal damage? The book discusses how a person with this condition would be raised a girl and might not know of his male genetic makeup until puberty when normal female menstruation did not occur. So potentially, this person could become sexually active before knowing he is actually male and the vagina is too small to accommodate a penis. Or instead, does this person not have sexual attraction toward males? Because he is technically male himself, would he not try to have sex with other males? Would he instead be attracted to females?
I think in order to figure this out we would need to know whether or not his brain was male or female. However, the individual wouldn’t have differentiated toward male or female. Would his brain be similar to that of a female because that is the default sex? Or would his brain also be ambiguous because he was neither feminized nor masculinized? In this case, would he have no sex drive at all? And therefore, would the problem of having a shallow vagina not really be a problem at all? (3969)

Many mammals and birds practice something in nature called infanticide in the case that they are unable to care for all of the offspring they birth. Instead of risking the health and wellbeing of all of their offspring, they determine the maximum number of offspring they can successfully support and leave the other offspring to die. Although this may seem like a harsh reality to accept, the mother knows that in order to preserve the species, she must make sure at least some of her offspring survive to carry on the genes. To bring this into an ecological perspective, it could be argued that this practice could be a solution to the overpopulation crisis we are currently facing in our world. Again, although this seems like a harsh way to control the population, it would seem logical to only birth as many children as they can support throughout their lives. This not only decreases the number of people living on the earth, but increases quality of life, since everyone would have sufficient resources provided for them until they can provide for themselves. (2742)

The complexity of fetus development through masculinization and defeminization is one that I found extremely interesting. The fact that errors in these processes can affect morphology and behavior is intriguing and frightening. Since hormonal influence is the major contributor in these processes, what outside factors, other than stress, can interrupt the processes to delineate from what would be “normal?” Also, since females are the “genetic” form in humans, would it be possible that natural selection is acting against male individuals since YO fetuses will not survive while XO of Turner’s syndrome do? Or why is it that YO is not viable, is it simply because since female is the genetic form then every fetus needs an X chromosome? (6553)

I thought it was very interesting that the male and female brains share the same physical appearances in detail, but in the actual performance and functions the differences were quite large. For instance the Cerebral Hemispheres of both the male and female brains are designated for the same functions. The left side specializing in verbal processes for language and the right side dealing with spatial skills. On closer examination of stroke victims in both sexes, doctors made a discovery of how males use their cerebral hemispheres more laterally than females. This means that men rely more heavily on one side over another when performing a task. Females on the other hand use both hemispheres around the same amount causing them to recover quicker and receive less affected damage from a stroke. (6867)

Based on the discussion of Homosexuality:
Does it take place after birth? Such as sibling rivalry, parental manipulation, berdache, and kin selection. Does homosexuality have more to do with ‘mutation’ prior to birth? Such as genetic pleiotropy? How do we know what is the cause. Can it be a combination or is it one of these reasons above.(8554)

Ernst Mayr, one of the influential figures in twentieth century biology, concluded that "biological systems store historically acquired information". Knowing that genetics can reveal the level of likelihood of the emergence of a genetic disease, I wanted to learn more about the subject. If genetics can be used to trace the gene which triggers red hair, the possibilities and benefits to mankind are enormous. The ethical questions the study of genetics raises are worth noting. If one had the opportunity, would they only have a child who is not likely to develop a genetic disease? If their child had the gene commonly found in homosexuals, would the family opt for an abortion? Will the only people who benefit from genetic screening be wealthy individuals? The idea of altering genes seems to be a reality and is very similar to the film Gattaca. (3032)

So there are some really interesting facts on the male reproduction behavior and strategies. Some of the things that really interested me were the male sex role reversals in the males. I was blown away especially at the video we watched in class on the catidid insect that reproduced asexually, then later in life reproduced sexually. It brings the question how do animals go back and forth between reproductive strategies and still survive? I also was interested in the classic male sex role reversal in the well known Seahorses that the males take care of the young in their pouches much like a female normally would. These things considered I wonder how male sex roles will evolve over time and if our roles now will be obsolete in the future. (6867)


We discussed how gay men have tendencies to be promiscuous and are more prefer sex in public spots while gay women are more monogamous and are more conservative sexually. Why is this and how does this apply to heterosexual males and females or is it not relevant to heterosexual men and women tendencies? 4247

We discussed how females don’t look at magazines of naked men how men have magazines of naked women and that they are more interested in bridal and home and garden magazines. Why wouldn’t they since their pupil response is the same when they see a naked man as when a man sees a naked woman. Also why don’t their eyes respond the same as when men see landscape since they are so interested in home and garden? 4247