Types of mating systems Essay



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Essay 1

Identify the five types of mating (social) systems found among primate species. For each system: (1) provide an example of a primate that uses it, (2) discuss how the system affects the social organization of the group, and (3) discuss how it affects the behavior of the primates in that group.


Primates, an extraordinary class of mammals, are renowned for their diversity in reproductive and social patterns and organization.  The animals live in social groups where members communicate with each other, coordinate daily activities, and interact in both agonistic and affiliate manner. Nevertheless, primates form mating systems and social bonds that they express through grooming, performing similar social activities such as picking through each other’s fur and removing debris (Dixson 873). Competition and conflict are often inevitable because the animals have to share mates, food, water, and sleeping sites. Understanding the mating system of primates is hence vital in appreciating the behavior and social organization of the animals.

Monogamy is a primate mating system where one male mates with one female. In this system, the chances of men monopolizing multiple females are low because of the paternal care vital in offspring care and wide female spatial distribution. Moreover, males forego their high reproductive potential to concentrate on their offspring’s survival and well-being (Petersdorf 2). The system affects the social organization of the primates as they are often organized in small families comprising of parents and offspring. Monogamy also affects male behavior because they have to be aggressive to defend their territory. An example of monogamous primates includes titi monkeys, the indri, owl monkeys, tamarins, and gibbons. Nonetheless, polygynandry is a mating system where various males mate with a group of females. Both sexes mate with multiple partners, and paternity remains unknown (Petersdorf 4). The social organization also varies in this system depending on the animals and unique feeding systems. The behavior of the primates is peaceful as the animals do not have specific mating partners. Examples of such animals include squirrel monkeys, spider monkeys, baboons, and bonobos.

Furthermore, polyandry is a mating system where one female mates with various males. Female’s variance in reproductive success is high because of the single breeding system. Some callitrichids adopt polyandry because of the high reproductive rate and evolution in twin births. Females need help from their mating partners, and at other times they embrace the system when they desire to have large territories that one man cannot defend (Petersdorf 2). Ultimately, the social organization in the system is one where the primates coexist in large groups where the alpha female is the head. The alpha females display aggressive behavior because they are the territory leaders. Examples of polyandrous primates include some of the Sumatran siamangs. Subsequently, another mating system is polygyny, where one male mates with various females. Primates often need more maternal care due to lactation and gestation needs (Tennenhouse 115). Male competition is often high, and females benefit due to increased food access and protection. The system has a diverse social organization consisting of male or female-dominated, multi-male groups, explosive breeding, leks, and multi-female groups (Dixson 1035). Examples of such primates include chimpanzees, vervet monkeys, macaques, and gorillas.


The different mating systems among the primates are vitals in understanding the characteristic variations among the animals. In some mating systems, males monopolize female reproduction while others emphasize equity. Ultimately, females are the primary caregivers, but in some systems, both genders actively take part in caregiving. The mating system dictates dominance acquisitions, degree of mate choice, level of sexual dimorphism, the intensity of male competition, and traits selected sexually.  Moreover, evolution has played a vital role in the process of sexual selection and the general characteristic of animals. It is evident that the mating system plays a crucial role in defining primate characteristics. Therefore understanding more about the primate mating system is vital in understanding their social organization and general behavior.


Essay 2

Identify and discuss five factors that allowed Homo erectus to leave Africa and settle in other parts of the world.  Use examples from at least three archaeological sites, such as Koobi Fora, East Rudolf, Nariokotome Boy, Olduvai Gorge, Dmanisi, Sima de Elefante, Gran Dolina, Trinil, Sangiran, Zhoukoudian, Java Man, Swartkrans, Wonderwerk Cave, Nihewan Basin.




Historical evidence links Homo erectus o Africa because anthropologists found the fossils in that region. Anthropologists found the first evidence of migration from Africa in Qafeh caves and Skhul, the current day Israel (Antón 505). The bodies of the Homo Erectus were similar to that of the present-day man, only that they had wider faces, longer legs, and shorter arms. The features indicate that they lost their earlier capability of climbing trees and gained the ability to walk and run longer distances. Nevertheless, the species is highly variable because it expanded beyond Africa and settled in other continents. The Homo erectus used the skills they learned in Africa to expand to the other regions searching for food. Understanding more about the factors that enabled Homo erectus to migrate from Africa is hence essential.

The Homo erectus body structure is among the factors that facilitated their migration to the other world regions. The long legs enabled efficient striding, which was suitable for long-distance traveling. However, the remains in Dmanini presents smaller statures, while some evidence indicates that they had longer legs. The approximately 5 feet tall Homo erectus was nicknamed the upright man because it displayed the proportions of the upright man (Choudhary 95). The upright bipedal movement was a vital development that played a crucial role in fastening the upright man’s movement. Moreover, another factor that facilitated the migration was intellectual development that made it possible for them to cope with the new and unfamiliar environments. The average brain size was 900 cubic centimeters, and it also enabled them to invent new tools, which eased their work (Antón 500). Furthermore, the increased brain size also helped the homo Erectus to be proficient hunters who could identify and prepare the best foods. Language development also enabled them to make plans, organize effectively and solve problems.

Moreover, improved technology also enhanced the migration process of Homo erectus from Africa. Evidence from South African caves such as Sibudu and Blombos indicates that the upright man-made ornaments and tools from different items (Choudhary 97). The careful artistry enabled them to make complex tools from bone and stone that helped them in hunting and gathering. Additionally, an improved diet with more meat and an efficient food supply played a massive role in their nutritional development. Fire invention gave the people the ability to cook food, kill germs and parasites in meat, and steam plants for easy digestibility (Carotenuto 6). The hunters and gatherers majorly ate meat and other carbohydrates that strengthened and enabled them to migrate. Finally, the people migrated from Africa as they were escaping from the harsh climatic conditions. Studies suggest that there was a massive drought just before the exodus was severe to a point where it threatened the extinction of the Homo erectus (Carotenuto 5). Ultimately, the climate shift interfered with the rainfall patterns, and the region became unbearably hot. Survivors of the harsh climate reunited and multiplied and, after that, decided to migrate. When they shifted to cold regions, they had to use fire to keep them warm because they were not used to the extremely cold temperatures.


In conclusion, determining the exact reason behind the migration of Homo erectus is not easy. However, developments in various areas and competition over the few available resources could be the reason behind the exodus. Intellectual development enabled the people to talk about their concerns and come up with a backup plan that facilitated the migration plans. Ultimately, environmental factors made it difficult for the people to survive in the extremely hot regions while their body structure enabled their movement because they could easily walk and run. Therefore, the factors that helped the Homo erectus to migrate have successfully illustrated the reasons behind their shift to other world regions.

Essay 3

Define and discuss the Replacement and Multiregional models for the origins of modern humans.  For EACH model, include specific examples of archaeological discoveries AND genetic evidence that support each model. Which model do you think is more accurate and why?

Various models have been trying to debate the evolutionary relationship between current day man and the archaic human. The models often collide because of the different anthropological information. Multiregional and replacement models are some of the theories that are concerned about the human being’s origin.

Replacement model.

The replacement model is also referred to as the out of Africa theory. The model explains that the modern-day human being originated from Africa approximately 200 000 years ago (Barras 42). 100000 years ago, the Homo sapiens species from Africa expanded and occupied different world regions and replaced the previous archaic species such as Neanderthals (Barras 42). Genetic input of the archaic species is not available because they became extinct. Homo sapiens had a single origin in Africa, and they replaced the archaic man because he was less developed and evolved. Replacement is a recent theory, and it believes that the non-Africans also descended from the Homo erectus population that migrated from Africa. Nevertheless, the theory has seen increasingly popular in the recent past because of the modern archaic discoveries that act as evidence of the out of Africa exodus. Some research indicates that about 135,000 years ago, a megadrought occurred in Africa, and it forced the people to move towards the available seashores. While some settled at the sea shoes, others crossed over to the other world regions and continents. In 2011, anthropologists discovered stone tools in the Sharjah and Mleiha regions of the United Arab Emirates (Scerri 1370). The findings indicated that the early man used the North African route while migrating to other continents. Migration could have also occurred in the south coast route where they used to enter Europe.

Multiregional model.

The multiregional model has a different explanation of the origin of the current day human beings. Initially, the model was developed to illustrate how some traits could have evolved across the different world regions. Understanding the common characteristics such as face reduction and cranial capacity was vital because they happened in different parts. The theory also explained regional distinctiveness in traits such as incisors with a shovel shape present among the past and modern-day Asians (Scerri 1371). Genetic drift, selection, and gene flow successfully explained the conflict of population similarity and regional continuity.  Moreover, multiregional model proponents argue that no single place or time can be associate with modern-day human beings (Wolpoff 5). The difference between archaic and modern man is complex and can never be easily understood because of their arbitrary nature.

Furthermore, the multiregional model posits that genetic and anatomic changes among the modern man occur in various world regions (Wolpoff 3). Modern beings result from regional coalescence of changes due to gene flow among populations. Changes take place unnoticeably because they occur within one evolutionary lineage. Various lineages have differences that cannot be noticed immediately but can be noticeable after some years. Changes are noticeable if given time, which is why they occur in various continents independently. The appearance of the modern man did not change in a single and parallel evolution; however, it happened over time unnoticeably (Wolpoff 5). Finally, as much as most explanations of human origin rely on the multiregional and replacement model, most anthropologists believe that a combination of the two might be accurate (Scerri 1372). The replacement model could be more accurate because there exists various evidence stating that Africa could be the root of modern man. As much as genes play a massive role in developing human characteristics, a place of origin must be considered.


Works Cited

Antón, Susan C. “Homo erectus and related taxa.” A Companion to Paleoanthropology (2013): 497-516.

Barras, Colin. “Outside of Africa: Our surprising origins.” New Scientist 218.2916 (2013): 40-43.

Carotenuto, F., et al. “Venturing out safely: The biogeography of Homo erectus dispersal out of Africa.” Journal of human evolution 95 (2016): 1-12.

Choudhary, Vijeta. “Unit-7 Homo erectus from Africa, Asia, Europe.” Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, 2020.

Dixson, Alan. “Primate sexuality.” The international encyclopedia of human sexuality (2015): 861-1042.

Petersdorf, Megan, and James P. Higham. “Mating systems (primates).” The International Encyclopedia of Biological Anthropology (2018): 1-5.

Scerri, Eleanor ML, Lounès Chikhi, and Mark G. Thomas. “Beyond multiregional and simple out-of-Africa models of human evolution.” Nature Ecology & Evolution 3.10 (2019): 1370-1372.

Tennenhouse, Erica M. “Inbreeding avoidance in male primates: a response to female mate choice?.” Ethology 120.2 (2014): 111-119.

Wolpoff, Milford H. “Multiregional evolution.” The International Encyclopedia of Biological Anthropology (2018): 1-10.






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