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For the record

"Men are better at reading maps as it helps them sow their wild oats" Image

"Men are better at reading maps as it helps them sow their wild oats"

An article in The Metro on 14th November reported on a study that investigated the navigation abilities of men from the Twe and Tjimba tribes, how far they roamed and how many children they had. They found that those with better navigation ability, roamed further and had more children with more women. The article claimed this is because “our fore-fathers wanted to breed with different women to spread their genes further afield, to reduce inbreeding”. This portrays a distorted view of the evolutionary process, because it presumes that men were consciously roaming far and wide to get more mating opportunities.

Professor Elizabeth Cashdan, Anthropology Department, University of Utah, and co-author of the study explained:

“We don't know what motivates males to travel farther than females. All we know is that men in this population who ranged more widely during the year produced children by more women. If the same were true of our ancestors, natural selection could have favoured males who were prone to travel.

“It doesn't matter whether their inclination to travel was conscious or unconscious, whether they were intentionally looking for partners or were travelling for some other reason.

“If a gene leads to a behaviour that makes it more likely to have more offspring, then the gene will spread in the population and the behaviour will become more common. It doesn't require conscious intent, either in people or in non-human species.”

Document type: For The Record

Published: 18 November 2014

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