Sexual Dimorphism and Human Evolution

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Introduction The topic of gender differences must understandably be approached with caution in our modern world. Emotionally charged and fraught with ideas about political correctness, gender can be a difficult subject to address, particularly when discussed in correlation to behavior and social behavior. Throughout history, many people have strove to understand what makes men and women different. Until the modern era, this topic was generally left up to religious leaders and philosophers to discuss. However, with the acquisition of more specialized medical knowledge of human physiology and the advent of anthropology, we now know a great deal more about gender differences than at any other point in history. However, many of our questions still remain. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the physical aspect of gender differences in humans, otherwise known as sexual dimorphism, it’s evolutionary history in our species, and some behavioral and societal trends that are associated with it. To accomplish this, I will begin by outlining the anatomical structures that are commonly used in measuring sexual dimorphism in our species. After establishing these criteria, I will expand upon the evolutionary history of sexual dimorphism in humans beginning with the anthropoids in the Oligocene and ending with present day trends. I will conclude this paper by discussing some of the behavioral traits that have been thought to correlate with differing degrees of sexual dimorphism and their plausibility. Anatomical Structures Used to Study Human Sexual Dimorphism To discuss sexual dimorphism, one must first define the term. Webster’s Dictionary defines sexual dimorphism as “the condition in which differences i... ... middle of paper ... ... Bindon, Jim 2004 Fossil Hominids. ANT 270 Notes. http://www.as.ua.edu/ant/bindon/ant270/lectures/ hominids1.pdf Delson, Eric 1981 Paleoanthropology: Pliocene and Pleistocene Human Evolution. Paleobiology, 7:3:298-305. Frayer, David W. and Milford Walpoff 1985 Sexual Dimorphism. Annual Review of Anthropology, 14:429-473 Key, Catherine A. 2000 The Evolution of Human Life History. World Archaeology, 31:3:329-350. Mitani, J.C. et al 1996 Sexual Dimorphism, the Operational Sex Ratio, and the Intensity of Male Competition in Polygamous Primates. The American Naturalist, 147:6:966-980. Rogers, Alan R. and Arindam Mukherjee 1992 Quantitative Genetics of Sexual Dimorphism in Human Body Size. Evolution,46:1:226-334. Wolpoff, Milford H. 1976 Some Aspects of the Evolution of Early Hominid Sexual Dimorphism. Current Anthropology 18:4:579-606.

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