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New study: are humans meant for monogamous lifestyles?

sex-and-relationships Updated: Mar 25, 2014 16:40 IST

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Are humans meant to form lifelong romantic attachments? The debate has gone on for years, as most species on this planet don't "mate for life."

Wolves do, and a new University of Pennsylvania study found that owl monkeys stay faithful for life as well.

The study examined the 35 offspring of 17 owl monkeys, and all "couples" remained monogamous, i.e., one male had mated with only one female. The monkeys were studied for 18 years for the university's Owl Monkey Project.

"Our study is the first of any primate species, and only the fourth for a pair-living mammal, to show genetic monogamy, or real faithfulness, between partners," study author Eduardo Fernandez-Duque, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania said in a press release.

"We never witnessed a little sneaky copulation with a neighbor, or that one partner dashed off for some time," Fernandez-Duque said. "But true genetic monogamy is very rare. We would not have been surprised if there had been at least one non-pair infant, but there were none."


Monogamy evolved to protect children, says study

A new study has found that owl monkeys stay faithful for life. (AFP)

Researchers believe the monkeys' lack of "cheating" has to do with the father's role in raising offspring. Monkey dads were very much involved in raising their little ‘uns, which included feeding them, carrying them on their backs and playing with them.

The researchers studied 15 other mammalian species, and found fathers in each species played an important role in child care. The more involved these dads were in the raising of their young, the more likely the species exhibited genetic monogamy.

HT Blog: Mapping Monogamy

A similar theory on the evolution of human monogamy indicates that long-lasting relationships have a lot to do with raising children and preventing infanticide. However, another study says species remain monogomous when "female density is low."

So, is it possible? Are humans meant for monogamous lifestyles?