Sponsor Research and Publication on the most Intriguing Scientific Endeavor, the Origin of Mankind. Read more
This project's funding goal was not reached on May 1, 2014.
About this project
For millennia mankind’s origin has been the focus of art and science. On the side of science, Dr. Louis Leakey and Charles Darwin come to mind, and on the side of art, Paul Gauguin’s Where Do We Come From? or Michelangelo's Adam at the Sistine Chapel leave enduring memories.
My research focuses on the difference between human and other primates mating biology and hominid speciation. Among all primates and all mammals human mating biology is unique, and several anomalies have been scientifically reported and to this day remain unexplained.
Is Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution able to explain observed anomalies in human mating biology?
Modern biology relies on natural selection and selection with positive feedback to describe the evolution of living organisms; however, within evolutionary theory, human mating biology stands out as a scientific anomaly. Among thousands of mammal species, concealed ovulation is unique to humans. It is my hypothesis that a factor other than natural selection or selection with positive feedback is responsible for human mating biology.
What are observed anomalies in human mating biology?
Several factors limit research on this area, the lack of controlled experiments and remaining objective being the most evident (3). Of all observed and scientifically reported anomalies, concealed ovulation and concealed mating are the most known.
What is selection with positive feedback?
Charles Darwin’s most famous book “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” has a chapter where he describes selection with positive feedback as the cause of phenotype ornaments and male/female dimorphism (4).
As an experiment, modern biologists add longer feathers to a bird and record the hen’s reaction. Scientists call this reaction selection with positive feedback. Selection with positive feedback is the cause for a peacock’s long and exuberant feathers, biologists also conclude selection with positive feedback can be understood as a feedback loop.
What makes my research different from other published scientific papers?
My goal is finding and proving the root cause for both concealed ovulation and concealed mating. Published scientific papers focus instead in the absence of a periodic, easily noticeable oestrus, ignore other known anomalies and conclude it is caused purely by anatomical reasons. My research will also offer a new biological process, selection with negative feedback; which should be understood as the opposite to what causes exuberant phenotype ornaments. To avoid unnecessary complexity my paper will not attempt to prove all human mating anomalies are caused by selection with negative feedback.
Concealed mating behavior in humans is the ultimate evolutionary paradox, at first glance it seems to reduce biological fitness and yet it is one of Homo sapiens central biological and social characteristics. To solve this apparent contradiction my research will emphasize general anatomical characteristics that allowed hominids to become the most dominant species in all habitable ecosystems, specifically: hand’s anatomical structure and higher intelligence. As hominids became dominant, gestation and rearing also became longer and as a consequence biological fitness changed from a product of survival probability and fecundity to a product that also includes a factor for rearing commitment. The degree of rearing commitment being directly related to selection with negative feedback.
In any competitive activity, like professional sports or stock trading in Wall Street, the sentence “survival of the fittest” is meaningful and authentic. Therefore, it should also have meaning in wild animals’ struggle for survival. Once two evolutionary processes are established (selection with positive or negative feedback) it is possible to reinterpret “the survival of the fittest” and truly understand evolution.
How will selection with negative feedback help science explain mankind's origin?
Selection with negative feedback is a feedback loop and a preference for long term relationships; this definition clarifies hominid speciation by showing how human families, or to paraphrase, human couples who have children together and take care of them for long periods of time make this happen. As I explained in the previous questions feedback loops are a major cause of evolution. Among other factors, the tree of life bifurcates when a group of living organisms from the same species have no predators and find themselves exposed to different feedback loops. Feedback loops will cause more and more differentiation and at certain point the new subspecies will no longer mate. Hominids’ unique mating biology enables selection with negative feedback to keep reinforcing itself. My research will find statistical data proves a feedback loop caused hominids to become a dominant species, separated from other primates and became a different species.
What is the focus of my research?
My goal is to find statistical data that proves selection with negative feedback causes concealed ovulation and other scientifically reported anomalies. I will avoid any anthropocentrism bias, and my research also will give us a much better understanding of mankind’s origin (hominid speciation) and human psyche (what makes us human.) Please read my opinion papers in my Facebook page.
Why selection with negative feedback?
Scientific research for our species origin belongs to paleontology and evolution theory, conducting this research Dr. Louis Leakey and Ronald Fisher became two of the most famous scientists of all time. Unfortunately, paleoanthropology cannot explain why human mating biology is unique. Our biological mating anomalies leave no fossil imprints (5). When and where we became a separate species is not in doubt. The short answer for both is 5 to 7 mya and Africa. Instead I will focus on how.
Every generation has the challenge to determine what makes all of us human. We are unique among all species to use language, be self-aware, have a high level of male/female dimorphism, have a very high level of social interaction, live among very large groups of our own, transform nature with the use of technology, we build nations, societies and, when possible, participate in communal trading efforts. Does this make us human? I do not believe it does, and neither does our unique mating biology. These characteristics enable us to behave the way we do, but they do not determine who we are. Taking into consideration solely evolutionary materialism and excluding factors not susceptible to objective analysis (distinctive human morality and emotions) and also excluding all spiritual, religious and supernatural aspects, science should be able to determine what part of sociology and biology makes us human by focusing on the following behaviors and characteristics.
Among other things what makes our generation human is our ability to become the dominant species of every ecosystem we inhabit, our civil rights, our human rights, understanding our rights, being able to acknowledge the rights of others and change our behavior accordingly. Other factors are: our capacity and willingness to feel empathy and compassion, also being aware of our limitations and possible imperfections. Future generations will face different challenges and they will have to determine what makes them human, perhaps curving novel technologies or passing new legislation.
Who is this for?
Scientists and scientific research enthusiasts who like to push the envelope and believe Evolutionary Theory itself needs to evolve. My long term goal is to elucidate a way to heal an specific environmental disease, an illness caused by our environment not by a pathogen, more precisely write a research paper for CFS. Scientific research can easily become dense, so I will also redouble my efforts to use accessible language for a better understanding of biology and science. The research paper first draft will be delivered four weeks after the end of the contribution period.
What will your contribution cover?
Your contribution will cover research, peer review, and publication of “Evolution of hominid mating biology and speciation.”
(1) All images Wikimedia Commons
(2) Gruban, 2006, Algerien Desert, commons.wikimedia.org
(3) Diamond, J.M. (2006). The Evolution of Human [...]. In The third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (pp. 68). New York, NY: HarperCollins
(4) Darwin, C. (1859). On the Origin of Species (1st edition) (pp. 89).
(5) Diamond, J.M. (2006).An Animal with an Strange Life Cycle. In The third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (pp. 61). New York, NY: HarperCollins
Risks and challenges
Biggest risk I face is turning my research paper into a group effort where no one has individual responsibility. Also very important, my paper relies on published scientific research, which offers extensive surveys to support my hypothesis:
“The self-domestication hypothesis: evolution of bonobo psychology is due to selection against aggression”. Brian Hare et al. 2012. Animal Behavior Elsevier
Guru of social networks psychologist Robin Dunbar has an excellent research paper : “The Social Brain Hypothesis”. 1998. Evolutionary Anthropology.
Paleoanthropology research on early hominids diet and tooth morphology: “Dietary Hypothesis and Human Evolution” Alan Walker. 1981. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.
In his book “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human” (2009), primatologist Richard Wrangham offers research on comparative anatomy between Homo habilis and Homo erectus. In his book “Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence” (1996) he researches Pan paniscus speciation.
Also very helpful: gestation length, rearing duration, and rearing contrast between humans and primates. Great apes have one infant at the time while humans have several children and they grow up as siblings. Kin selection will help describe observed phenomena. "The evolution of altruistic behavior". (1963). Hamilton, W. D.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
- (30 days)