Talk:Sexual selection in humans

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Brain and fitness[edit]

I'm pretty sure the human brain does have inherent survival benefits. I don't know what the last section in this article is even talking about. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.151.133.92 (talk) 07:38, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

- Agreed. It is ludicrous to say the brain has no fitness value, or that fitness can not increase as the brain gets bigger because of its energy consumption. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 124.168.27.68 (talk) 14:22, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Yes the human brain does have fitness value, but some scientists have suggested that Humans have been too intelligent for their environment. It is possible that the abilities to perform complex mathematics, produce literature, create art, use a computer, edit wikipedia etc were already possessed by our ancestors who lived more than 50kya. Yet these ancestors had no opportunities to use this skills. The question is why did they evolve? and some suggestion sexual selection for some other traits was the reason. Wapondaponda (talk) 19:26, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

Race theories[edit]

I would suggest toning down some of the theories about race. I would suggest that the main focus should be on the evolution of homo sapiens from the pan-homo split to before the Out of Africa migration. However we can mention that some of the trivial differences in physical appearance between the races could be the result of sexual selection. Any other theories are likely to be controversial. Wapondaponda (talk) 23:34, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Indeed. I removed some claims about race and penis size (some of them sourced to Carleton Coon, whom no one takes seriously these days), and also the claim that penis size can be inferred from finger size; this article described that dubious correlation as fact, while Human penis size and Snopes.com debunk it as a likely urban legend. Another claim I removed (that blacks have a 1" longer penis on average) is especially suspect and Human penis size debunks that as well. Stonemason89 (talk) 03:34, 14 September 2010 (UTC)
Muntuwandi - Yes, I should have chosen the terminology more carefully, I've moderated those aspects in line with your suggestion. Stonemason89 - My source was a published book by an authority on physical anthropology, while it's true that some of his theories are no longer regarded as tenable he is as reliable a source as there is for the particular data nonetheless. It is not clear how the British metastudy concluded that 'The notion ... is false', it may have escaped your attention but there is a flourishing porn industry in the US,and in Wikipedia articles several of the performers are described as being reputed to have the biggest penises in porn - and not one of these contenders for the title of the 'biggest in porn' are white. As for the connection with fingers here is a scientific article you might find enlightening Of fingers, toes and penises. Wikipedia is about accurate information and I have no reason to doubt that the info you deleted was closer to the truth that the human penis size article is, however I will leave your deletions to sexual selection in human evolution alone as the subject is not terribly relevant. Please discuss any future changes. Overagainst (talk) 20:24, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
I still believe that the current article devotes a disproportionate amount of space to covering controversial theories about race. Usually when people refer to human evolution, they mean the period from the common ancestor humans share with Chimpanzees and gorillas, to the emergence of the species homo sapiens. This doesn't mean that evolution stopped after the speciation of homo sapiens, but that the bulk of evolution took place before the speciation of homo sapiens. I think that the article should devote more space to this period.
Basically what features of human biology, features that are universally found in all populations, are most likely to have emerged by sexual selection rather than pure natural selection. Sexual dimorphism comes to mind, but it isn't unique to humans since it is common in many other species. Hairlessness, concealed ovulation, beards and moustaches in men, baldness in men, large breasts that could supply the same amount of breast milk if they were significantly smaller, hair on the head but not on the rest of the body, eyebrows, prominent lips, protruding buttocks etc are the sort of trivial and peculiar features of humans that pure natural selection cannot easily explain, and could possible be due to sexual selection. Wapondaponda (talk) 21:13, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
I will add more on the universal features of modern humans which are thought to have resulted from sexual selection and tone down the other stuff.Usually when people refer to human evolution, they mean the period from the common ancestor humans share with Chimpanzees and gorillas, to the emergence of the species homo sapiens Yes, but as the page is 'Sexual selection in human evolution' I think it is in order to discuss some modern takes on Darwin's ideas, I tried to make it clear they are only hypotheses and can not be dignified as theory, I'll make it even clearer they are mere hypotheses. Overagainst (talk) 08:58, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
At present the article is a WP:COATRACK. The article is more of a "Sexual selection and race differences" article than a sexual selection in human evolution article. Darwin did attribute some race differences to sexual selection but didn't dwell too much on them, he was more interested in the human beard, IOW human traits that seemed too trivial to be explained by his own theory of natural selection. The article should return to a state in which much of the discussion is focussed on the widely accepted theories of sexual selection rather than speculative controversial theories. Wapondaponda (talk) 03:44, 29 October 2010 (UTC)
This article is still bizarrely focused on skin color. It was so bizarre that I came to this page figuring there must be some discussion. Why is there a paragraph on skin color in the intro? In the section "Darwin and more recent hypotheses" the only "more recent" theory is one about skin color. Why is the section on "Direction and intensity of sexual selection" so focused on skin color? Likewise the "criticism" section is mostly about skin color. I have no objection to the skin color stuff being here but why not have a separate header for "skin color and other pigmentation" so it is at least frank, and so the holes are more clear? That is my suggestion -- a section for "skin color and other pigmentation" at the same level as "sexual dimorphism" and moving the paragraph from the intro, and other sections, into that section.Jytdog (talk) 16:25, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
Further on this, it seems that the entire section on "Direction and intensity of sexual selection" says nothing about this in general and is solely focused on reprising Peter Frost's theory on why European women (and thus Europeans) have diversity in pigmentation (he seems to believe that Europeans have more pigment diversity than other peoples -- is this even true?) In any case I suggest eliminating this section it is not what it says it is. I would like to move this long explanation to the article on Frost, and editing down a brief paragraph on Frost's ideas about pigmentation and putting it in to the section on sexual dimorphism in this article. Let me know your thoughts!Jytdog (talk) 16:45, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

Lighter skin in historically hunter gatherer populations in Africa[edit]

Ufwuct ref of Sweet conceding light skin in historically hunter gatherer population in Africa [1]

See WP:NOTAFORUM. Nonetheless it is a known fact that the indigenous hunter gatherer populations of Southern Africa tend to relatively light skin. This pattern is still consistent with the relationship between skin color and latitude as the Khoisan live below the tropic of capricorn. Wapondaponda (talk) 18:25, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Nothing is proven sure, I didn't mean to give that impressionOveragainst (talk) 18:28, 28 October 2010 (UTC) This pattern is still consistent with the relationship between skin color and latitude as the Khoisan live below the tropic of capricorn Yes Muntuwandi but I pointed out the light skin of Khoisans in the context of FW Sweets' agriculture hypothesis becuase that is the hypothisis which the light skin of Khoisans is an anomaly for, not the latitude hypothesis. The criticism section is supposed to show that the ideas in the article about sexual selection in human evolution are merely hypothesises and are not proven to be responsible for lightening ( or darkening) of skin color and that they have problems. The problems with the rival theories such as the one the light skin of African hunter gatheres pose for Sweets' agriculture hypothesis are given for balance because the rivals to sexual selection are also no more than hypothesises. I do give the latitude hypothesis its due in the article as shown in the following This idea dovetails with a subsequent need for photoprotection and is part of a leading explanation for the evolution of highly pigmented skin by Nina J. Jablonski and George Chaplin.[4] Maybe I should change that to the leading explanation for the evolution of highly pigmented skin? However, it is no more than that, the latitude explaination is not proven to be true any more than sexual selection or the switch to agriculture explaination. Overagainst (talk) 19:07, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

There is no easy explanation for differences in skin color, but the correlation with latitude is the strongest so far. Sexual selection could have played a role, but if it did, why is it that people from around the world have different skin colors? Is sexual selection purely random?. Are sexual preferences random? Unlike the peacocks tail, it could be that sexual selection was somehow related to natural selection, that is individuals who possessed some evolutionary fitness related to their skin tone became sexually attractive. I believe many scholars do now suggest a combination of sexual and natural selection because the correlation with latitude still holds, but the range of skin colors seems too exaggerated to be accounted for by natural selection alone. Wapondaponda (talk) 19:51, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Sexual selection could have played a role, but if it did, why is it that people from around the world have different skin colors? That is an excellent point. I had a picture of Naomi Campbell prominently dislayed to illustate that very thing with explanatory text saying standards of attactiveness do not vary but someone claimed it was unreferenced ( it wasn't as it was repeated in the main text where a ref was supplied) and took it upon themselves to remove it. Overagainst (talk) 20:07, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

First subsection is pretty poor[edit]

Ufwuct, give examples and explaination of what you mean please! Overagainst (talk) 19:40, 28 October 2010 (UTC) The ref for the first para of text of the subsection is 17SEXUAL SELECTION AND HUMAN GEOGRAPHIC VARIATION,maybe was not clear that it is the ref to the foregoing assertions made in the para.Overagainst (talk) 20:43, 28 October 2010 (UTC)Overagainst (talk) 21:20, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

I have further qualified the subsection and it is now made clear the subsection outlines the particular hypothesis of an individual anthropologist and the proposed explaination is not the most accepted one among scientists. However Peter Frost's sexual selection hypothesis is what the skin color review was refering to, therefor it is presented as what it is - a leading sexual selection hypothesis.Overagainst (talk) 21:11, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Going forward[edit]

The article needs to be based on reliable secondary sources per WP:PSTS. Here are a few sources that may form a useful foundation for this article

Wapondaponda (talk) 05:03, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Nothing wrong with the secondary sources you suggest but G. Miller' review does not cover the subject of skin color, I do cite a review of skin color (ref 23 - Juzeniene, A.; Setlow, R.; Porojnicu, A.; Steindal, A.; Moan, J. (2009). "Development of different human skin colors: a review highlighting photobiological and photobiophysical aspects.". Journal of photochemistry and photobiology. B, Biology 96 (2): 93–100) for the statement that sexual selection is a possible explaination for the evolution of white skin. Millers main interest is the influence that sexual selection has had on the mental attributes of humans, go ahead and do a section on his ideas by all means. Here is an instance where Miller conflicts with the the sources I cited, he says

"Eberhard (1985, 1991) has demonstrated a substantial role for female choice in the evolution of male genitalia. The human penis is a prime example: [...]The size and flexibility of the human penis is more likely the result of female choice than sperm competition because sperm competition generally favors large testicles, as in the small-penised chimpanzee (Baker& Bellis, 1995; Harcourt & Harvey, 1984; G. Parker, 1984; Smith, 1984). But ref 33 Semen Displacement as a Sperm Competition Strategy in Humans contradicts himOveragainst (talk) 15:54, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Another interesting article on the subject
Madriga; et al. (2007). "Human Skin-Color Sexual Dimorphism: A Test of the Sexual Selection Hypothesis" (PDF). 
Wapondaponda (talk) 01:04, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Yes lack of Sexual Dimorphism is an anomaly for sexual selection, that criticism is given the last word in the section in the ' Criticism ', subsection which ends thus:- "However a leading proponent of the agriculturally caused pigmentation hypothesis maintains that sexual selection can not account for European pigmentation as it would have almost certainly have resulted in the traits of lighter skin, hair and eyes exhibiting strong sexual dimorphism". The criticism subsection has a photo of a very blond man to emphasize the point.Overagainst (talk) 11:57, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

My experience so far is that such images tend to raise controversy. For example Talk:Blond/Archive_3 is filled with debates about images. I would like to reiterate, based on the secondary sources cited, the core of this article should be about the universal features of the human species that may are likely to have emerged by sexual selection. Skin color, eye color or penis size differences between races are of perpetual interest but unfortunately theories of sexual selection applied to some of these differences are still speculative. I would recommend that such discussions should take place in their respective articles, such as human skin color, blond, or penis size. Wapondaponda (talk) 18:37, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

"universal features of the human species that may (or are) likely to have emerged by sexual selection" Show me where it says assume the direction and internsity of sexual selection has always and everywhere been the same (which may, or may not, be true). It doesn't, any more than it says 'assume direction and internsity of natural selection has always and everywhere been the same'. Anyway universal features of the human species would leave us with humans at the time of out of Africa which was the last time everyone looked alike . Please note: I was not the one who put the section on penis size in the article and in fact the article originally stated ( as the main Sexual selection article still does) that display of erections by males to females led to sexual selection of penis size. I just gave an alternative view which certain scientists have suggested. Overagainst (talk) 19:59, 30 October 2010 (UTC)


Skin color, eye color {...} are of perpetual interest but unfortunately theories of sexual selection applied to some of these differences are still speculative. Yes but so are the natural selection ones ( as I point out above a review of the proposed explainations for skin color does not conclude the natural selection one is the only viable theory), are you also objecting to the account of the natural selection explaination for skin color being given on Wikipedia?Overagainst (talk) 20:14, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

Natural selection can be covered in the article about human skin color. But seeing that the application of natural selection to skin color is still not completely understood, it wouldn't be a good example to use in an article on natural selection. Likewise this article is about sexual selection when applied to humans. The core of the article should be on what isn't controversial, for example sexual dimorphism of human anatomy. It seems to me that there is an excessive focus on hair color, skin color. This excessive focus tends to diminish many other important aspects of sexual selection theories. In due time, I will start to restructure the article to bring it in line with the secondary sources that deal directly with the subject. I would suggest that going forward, all who are interested in the article should consider moving in that direction as well. Wapondaponda (talk) 02:55, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
Natural selection can be covered in the article about human skin color. But seeing that the application of natural selection to skin color is still not completely understood, it wouldn't be a good example to use in an article on natural selection.

All features of humans are universal features because humans are a species. Sexual selection is just a type of adaptation, and for obvious reasons it is focused on superficial aspects of human anatomy, I can't help that in an article on sexual selection in human evolution these superficial pigmentary traits are going to be included. In a "Natural selection in human evolution" article it would be perfectly OK to discuss skin color. in fact a prestigious paper which I have quoted in the article (reference 5) suggest it is a good way to teach natural selection. "indeed the case for human skin color as a adaptation to UV radiation is so clear an example of the mechanism of evolution by natural selection that it is a perfect model to demonstrate it.Jablonski, N.; Chaplin, G. (2010). "Colloquium paper: human skin pigmentation as an adaptation to UV radiation". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107"

I am surprised that you think there is a lack of emphasis on sexual dimorphism of human anatomy as the article makes clear it discusses skin color because it is an example of sexual dimorphism of human anatomy . This excessive focus tends to diminish many other important aspects of sexual selection theories. http://www.pnas.org/content/107/suppl.2/8962.full. I'm all for you giving other important aspects their correct emphasis no ones objecting to you doing a section on them. But you seem to be talking about deleting certain aspects of the article not adding things. I don't know what you mean by focus - only one thing can be focused on at a time, as wiki articles are a joint effort there are going to be various focuses in the article. Everyone adds their important aspects and the article takes shape. Secondary sources are necessary when things are being stated as facts, Please give examples of something being stated as a fact without a secondary source, I think you'll find it's made clear they are hypotheses as are just about anything that could be in the article or in one about natural selection.

The fact is Darwin thought there had been sexual selection of skin color in some cases Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex That is going to be mentioned in any article on sexual selection, modern hypothesis ( repeat hypotheses) along the same lines also belong in the article. Maybe the stuff about skin color takes up too much space at present and should be edited down a bit but I can't accept that nothing about sexual selection by modern authors or even Darwin, should appear in the article. It is not true that Wikipedia allows only proven theories supported by secondary sources as you seem to be saying . Many things in science are remain open questions as with skin color and this is not an article on skin color but sexual selection. An account of the sexual selection hypothesis is not impermissible as long as it is made clear it is merely one of a number of hypothesis which attempt to account for skin color( and it is not suggested all skin color is due to sexual selection UV radiation is likely for the medium skin color of most of the world according to Manning and Frost.) Here is a secondary and tertiary source for the statement for that human beings are sexually dimorphic in skin tone. Human Evolutionary Biology By Michael P. Muehlenbein (2010) p.204. and its possible relevance for skin color.

This article is not sexual selection and racial differences, it is about human evolution. Wapondaponda (talk) 01:51, 2 November 2010 (UTC)
Having read quickly through the article I tend to agree that it it misses a lot of imprtant information about sexual selection - including a critical discussion of sociobiology - and that it overemphasises what I think is a fairly marginal subtopic of explaining phenotypical variation through sexual selection.·Maunus·ƛ· 02:13, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

An article about sexual selection in human evolution which does not mention Darwin's ideas about sexual selection in human evolution is a travesty. The fact is he did talk about variation in skin color in humans and sexual selection and a closely related modern hypothesis exists. Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex The Heretic in Darwin's Court: The Life of Alfred Russel Wallace By Ross A. Slotten. I have a tertiary source for the statement for that human beings are sexually dimorphic in skin tone. Human Evolutionary Biology By Michael P. Muehlenbein (2010) p.204. and this tertiary source also discusses the possible relevance for skin color.I do have a secondary source ( review of skin color) (ref 23 - Juzeniene, A.; Setlow, R.; Porojnicu, A.; Steindal, A.; Moan, J. (2009). "Development of different human skin colors: a review highlighting photobiological and photobiophysical aspects.". Journal of photochemistry and photobiology. B, Biology 96 (2): 93–100) for the statement that sexual selection is a possible explaination for the evolution of white skin Such a discussion is necessary in the article in my opinion. You are proposing that modern ideas about sexual selection are to be mentioned only if they are about the 'evolution of homo sapiens from the pan-homo split to before the Out of Africa migration. As the environments which are proposed to have been responsible for sexual selection were long after the time modern humans left Africa and some were in Europe I don't see how those aspects of sexual selection can be discussed without covering all human evolution.

As I pointed out about the Dawkins penis size theory virtually nothing is proven in this area or isn't controversial. One that isn't which you suggested above is sexual dimorphism of human anatomy. Basically what features of human biology, features that are universally found in all populations, are most likely to have emerged by sexual selection rather than pure natural selection. Sexual dimorphism comes to mind I have a tertiary source for the statement for that human beings are sexually dimorphic in skin tone. Human Evolutionary Biology By Michael P. Muehlenbein (2010) p.204. and this tertiary source also discusses the possible relevance for sexual selection of skin color among other explainations. I have a secondary source ( review of skin color) (ref 23 - Juzeniene, A.; Setlow, R.; Porojnicu, A.; Steindal, A.; Moan, J. (2009). "Development of different human skin colors: a review highlighting photobiological and photobiophysical aspects.". Journal of photochemistry and photobiology. B, Biology 96 (2): 93–100) for the statement that sexual selection is a possible explaination for the evolution of white skin. I would like to know what (if any) Wikipedia guideline the idea that hypotheses about sexual selection which may have occurred after out of Africa can not be discussed is is drawn from. Overagainst (talk) 19:33, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Do you also have a source that says that the evolution skincolor is the only subject of interest to the topic of sexual selection? Right now the article gives that impression. I am pretty sure that this has to be undue weight given to a very specific subtopic of a larger topic.·Maunus·ƛ· 23:39, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Evolution by SS is going to affect aspects of appearance mainly, in humans that is going to mean that appearance is discussed quite a bit and skin color is very relevant to apearance and is sexually dimorphic. I have no objection to some some judicious pruning of the skin color section. Overagainst (talk) 09:53, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

Why do you think that sexual selection affects aspects of appearance mainly? I think there is a lot of research in sociobiology that suggests that all signifiacnt aspects of human social behaviour can be explained in terms of sexual selection. There is also a lot of research contradicting that viewpoint. None of them are represented in this article.·Maunus·ƛ· 13:00, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

If anyone thinks that that the article misses a lot of important information about sexual selection and overemphasises a marginal subtopic they ought to add the important information which they believe is missing and help balance the article. Overagainst (talk) 12:41, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

Someone believes that. And they will start reorganising the article when at some point in the future they find the time in their busy schedule. Untill then they will have to simply rest assured that they have expressed their viewpoint in the appropriate place and that those who do have time to work on the article will be aware that there are issues ythat they could take into account. ·Maunus·ƛ· 13:00, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

Going forward section break[edit]

To start with, we could do with eliminating some or all of the images. The list of images is

  • Naomi Campbell - 'Across a wide range of cultures a female face is seen as attractive '
  • San Woman from Botswana
  • Marilyn Monroe on stage
  • Olive green eyes
  • Long blond hair
  • A blond man.

These images make the article look quite forumish. At the very least the use of these images borders on original research because I am not aware that these specific images have been used in any of the literature that is cited in the article. The article brings together race, sex and beauty. While these three subjects always fascinate or intrigue, we shouldn't get too carried away with them, and forget what the article is about. The focus should remain on mainstream scientific findings, not on beauty or celebrities. Wapondaponda (talk) 18:56, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

Naomi Campbell - 'Across a wide range of cultures a female face is seen as attractive ' is the most important image of all IMO. The schizophrenia article is one of the Featured articles, it has an image of John Nash (who is a celebrity) which is not used in the literature that is cited in the article. Therefor using a picture of a woman of diverse ancestry [[[Naomi Campbell]] who is generally regarded as attractive to illustrate the central point that standards of attractiveness are the same across a wide range of cultures is perfectly acceptable. The fact she is a celebrity because she is a top model has the added advantage that no one could deny she is generally regarded as attractive, the accompanying text gives a reference. You are right that this is not about celebrities and but unfortunately it was difficult to find a suitable image of a woman who no one could deny is attractive who is not a celebrity.

Major depressive disorder is one of the Featured articles it has an image of Vincent van Gogh's 1890 painting At Eternity's Gate to illustrate depression. The 'Marilyn Monroe on stage' image is there because it shows a woman with visible markers of mate quality signifying fecundity, "A gynoid pattern of fat distribution, with small waist and large hips (low waist‐to‐hip ratio, or WHR) holds significant fitness benefits for women: women with a low WHR of about 0.7 are more fecund, are less prone to chronic disease, and (in most cultures) are considered more attractive". Waist‐to‐Hip Ratio across Cultures: Trade‐Offs between Androgen‐ and Estrogen‐Dependent Traits. What is being talked about in the text is the difference between signification of fertility by traits like small waist and large hips and the traits which do not signify fertility such as hair color or eye color which it is hypothesized have been selected . The article says "If mate competition is relatively weak, sexual selection focuses primarily on visible markers of mate quality which signify fecundity, as mate competition intensifies the focus will shift from functional to eye-catching novelty rather than biologic 'truth in advertising'". reference [2]. Maybe the point could be made clearer. If you can find an image of a non celebrity woman ( of any ethnicity ) that does the job of the Marilyn Monroe on stage' image then that could replace it, the fact MM is blond or white is not relevant to the point being made. Anyway an image of a woman with a small waist and large hips ( celebrity or not) is hardly out of place in an article such as this.

I have no objections to elimination of the images - San woman, olive green eyes, Long blond hair, or A blond man. Overagainst (talk) 21:59, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

It would be helpful if you could indent your comments, see Help:Using_talk_pages#Indentation and Wikipedia:Tutorial_(Talk_pages)#Indenting.
Over the years, I have witnessed several disputes regarding images of people in articles [3] [4] [5] [6] [7], [8], [9]. The nature of these disputes is pretty similar. Firstly there is always a tendency to add photos of people considered attractive or celebrities to tangentially related articles, especially to articles about ethnic groups. Secondly there is always a dispute about whether such images are adequately representative of the subject matter. We are encouraged to use images on Wikipedia, but from my experience when images take too much space in discussion, its usually a good time to consider eliminating them. Most often what I have seen is that scientific articles tend to avoid celebrity types because doing so helps avoid drama. Images that tend to gain acceptance are usually directly related to the subject matter, without the need for original research. or example in the article on sexual selection, the lead image is from Darwin's book. In fact Fa few other images are either from Darwin's book or directly related to it. Images that are not personal such as diagrams, maps, scientific illustrations tend to be more easily accepted than photos of people, especially photos of celebrities. For the moment I would suggest eliminating all images, work on the text and then find suitable scientific images that are consistent with the text. Wapondaponda (talk) 01:56, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
It need better arguments for inclusion of images. Afterall every living person is the result of sexual selection - not just one's judged to be pretty in western popular culture.·Maunus·ƛ· 02:22, 4 November 2010 (UTC)


"Firstly there is always a tendency to add photos of people considered attractive or celebrities to tangentially related articles, especially to articles about ethnic groups".

There is a reason to use an image of an attractive woman as the point being made is that standards of attractiveness do not vary around the world, this not a tangental point in an article about sexual selection, the only suitable image I found happened to be of a celebrity. Again, there are featured articles which use celebrities' the issue is whether it is relevant to the point that is being made.

"Images that tend to gain acceptance are usually directly related to the subject matter, without the need for original research. or example in the article on sexual selection, the lead image is from Darwin's book".

I think there is an exact analogy between the Illustration from Darwin showing the Tufted Coquette Lophornis ornatus, and an article on sexual selection in humans showing a human being. If you can think you have a better image to use let's see it. Is it so odd to have a image of a human being in the 'Sexual selection in human evolution' article? (Got to go now, to be cont.) Overagainst (talk) 13:46, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

I am not against using images, rather I am only against using images that are gratuitous, unnecessary or do not help readers understand or appreciate the subject. There are articles on supermodels, sex symbols, beauty, physical attractiveness, sexual attractiveness, human hair color where a better argument for using such images can be made. Many people may consider Naomi Campbell or Marilyn Munroe attractive but this doesn't help a reader understand the science of sexual selection. Sexual selection doesn't always operate on traits that are necessarily related to western standards of physical attractiveness. Triver's Parental investment theory has been applied to humans, and is one of the most important aspects of sexual selection in human evolution. It isn't included in the article at the moment, so it would be more worthwhile to look at incorporating such information rather than spending too much time and effort and race, beauty and sex. Wapondaponda (talk) 17:36, 4 November 2010 (UTC)


"Sexual selection doesn't always operate on traits that are necessarily related to western standards of physical attractiveness".

Yes it does if, as is being argued here, Western standards of physical attractiveness are more or less the same as everywhere else. An account of a hypothesis is given in which it is being suggested that people from a wide range of cultures agree about what is attractive, this explains an anomaly for a theory of sexual selection which puzzled Darwin. Darwin thought many differences in appearance were trivial and of no practical use thus probably evolved under sexual rather than natural selection. If the Western standards of attractiveness was different to that in other parts of the world that would explain how sexual selection had resulted in different appearance, ( Darwin was using words that we wouldn't use today obviously) Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. However Darwin also n later notes that some Europeans who had travelled in the interior of Africa where the natives had not been infuenced by Western standards were convinced that the African ideas of beauty was on the whole similar to that of Westerners, ( and vice versa Europeans agreed with native judgements about native girls) He noted that Africans admired a beard although they did not have full beards. This is an anomaly for if sexual selection is an important factor responsible for the appearance of humans and the standard of attractivenes is much the same around the world how could sexual selection have resulted in humans appearance varying around the world. [10] SEXUAL SELECTION AND HUMAN GEOGRAPHIC VARIATION suggests a way sexual selection could be responsible.

"Many people may consider Naomi Campbell or Marilyn Munroe attractive but this doesn't help a reader understand the science of sexual selection".

I have to disagree with you - high eyebrows, widely spaced large eyes with dilated pupils, high cheekbones, a small nose, a narrow face with thin cheeks, a large smile, a full lower lip, a small chin, and a full hairstyle. To me the image of Naomi Campbell helps a reader understand what that looks like, that such characteristics are found all around the World, (ie in people of many ancestries) and most importantly that these characteristics are recognised as being attractive in a wide range of cultures. It's not about Naomi Campbell and the image of her can be replaced if you can find a image that does the same job. I'll admit the image of Naomi Campbell is not alongside the relevant part of the article. Marilyn monroe on stage image is not realy important, personally I don't think it is out of place or offensively gratuitous.Overagainst (talk) 18:37, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

"Triver's Parental investment theory has been applied to humans, and is one of the most important aspects of sexual selection in human evolution. It isn't included in the article at the moment, so it would be more worthwhile to look at incorporating such information rather than spending too much time and effort and race, beauty and sex"

I agree Trivers is very important Sexual selection and the descent of man: the Darwinian pivot and should be talked about before and given more prominence than the the ideas of Manning and Frost. It is going to be necessary to discuss hypothesis about what are percieved as sexually attractive characterics and why while making it clear there are alternative explainations for those perceptions of course . Here is one -" I find that women are portrayed as having fairer complexions on average than men of the same race. I address possible biological interpretations of this difference and find them wanting. I develop an alternative explanation for the findings and argue that complexion ideals are related to dominant attitudes toward gender roles and to larger cultural meanings given to lightness and darkness. This meaning-based explanation to understanding aesthetics asserts that the dominant meanings of lightness and darkness in our culture are considered more ideally feminine and masculine, respectively.[11]The moral underpinnings of beauty: A meaning-based explanation for light and dark complexions in advertising. Overagainst (talk) 19:26, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

The major concern I have is your fixation on beauty and race and how the article has been twisted in that direction. If one reads a typical secondary source on the subject, such as those listed above, there is very little, if any mention of skin color. Beauty and facial attractiveness are discussed but only briefly, they do not form the core of the above publications. Sure sexual selection is related to ideas of beauty, but the science behind it isn't dedicated to beauty in the way that you have approached sexual selection in the article. The fact that most or all of the images you have included are of women demonstrates that you are giving undue weight to ideas of feminine beauty, when that is not what sexual selection is all about. Sexual selection also acts on males. The picture of Naomi Campbell, does nothing to illustrate the traits you mention such as high eyebrows, thin cheeks etc, it's not a portrait and there is nothing to demonstrate the traits you listed. Even if there was such a diagram, it is still only marginally relevant. Wapondaponda (talk) 21:50, 4 November 2010 (UTC)


"The fact that most or all of the images you have included are of women demonstrates that you are giving undue weight to ideas of feminine beauty"

Well sexual selection of men is discussed quite extensively. there could be an image of Will Smith, he is mentioned. I find it difficult to believe it's really true that you can't see the relevance of the picture of Naomi Campbell to illustrating what is considered attractive across a range of cultures. And yet again I'll repeat that featured articles make use of images of humans including celebrities to illustrate the featured articles in a far more 'tangential' way than the use of the image of Cambell is, I've given examples above. Featured articles are there to serve as a guide you know! Overagainst (talk) 13:31, 5 November 2010 (UTC)

Please try to learn to indent your comments. I think your obsession with celebrities is unhelpful. The picture of Naomi Campbell borders on original research. I can't say whether or not some of the assertions may be correct, do we have a reliable scientific source related to sexual selection that states that Naomi Campbell has thin lips, high cheek bones a narrow face etc. I haven't had the time yet, but I intend to remove the frivolous images and rewrite much of the text in line with the mainstream sources cited above. I intend to mention concepts of beauty, but they won't form the core of the article as is the case with other reliable sources. Wapondaponda (talk) 15:24, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
I think that my use of images is in line with the way Wikipedia:Featured articles use images, eg Schizophrenia ( which is one of the Wikipedia:Featured articles)has an image of John Nash, on the grounds that he showed signs of paranoid schizophrenia. There is no "reliable scientific source" that says John Nash had schizophrenia, and the picture of his face is not really illustrating the point that "he showed signs of paranoid schizophrenia" covered in the text under the image. So for the about the fifth and last time I'm going to take Wikipedia's featured articles as a guide, we shall see if the ranking editors agree if I have interpreted the guidelines correctly . Please learn to stop accusing people of having obsessions, obsessions are what the person who has them goes on about. I'd prefer if the image was not of a celebrity but I couldn't find one, the image doesn't have be titled 'Naomi Campbell' it could be titled - "a top model' , or nothing at all. It's self evident that the image is of a woman who is attractive, doubly so as she is a top model. The reference for the words under the image was not a secondary one however so you had a point about that. The text under the image should be changed, here is my proposed wording "There is cross-cultural agreement on what constitutes facial attractiveness " The secondary source for that statement is The Evolutionary Psychology of Facial Beauty ( full access). Overagainst (talk) 19:22, 5 November 2010 (UTC)
John Nash isn't a celebrity, rather a mathematician, Russel Crowe is a celebrity though. The movie A Beautiful Mind (film) is predicated on the assumption that Nash was schizophrenic. Whether or not that was medically verified, I cannot say for sure. Only that Nash is notable for possibly being schizophrenic, and some of the symptoms Nash displayed were consistent with schizophrenia. I have less issues with a Nash image, because there are numerous reliable sources that directly discuss Nash in connection with Schizophrenia. I can't find any that directly discuss Naomi Campbell in connection with sexual selection [12]. The issue is even "normal" person, ie someone who isn't attractive, who isn't a supermodel/celebrity, still carries with them the vestiges of sexual selection. For example Darwin conjectured that mustaches and beards are the product of sexual selection. A person with a mustache or a beard isn't necessarily attractive, but their trait is possibly due to sexual selection in prehistoric times. As for cross-cultural agreement on facial attractiveness, that is statistically true, not absolutely true. From anthropology the Venus figurines are most frequently depicted as large women, not skinny models. It isn't so simple to state that there is universal cultural agreement on what it is to be attractive. Wapondaponda (talk) 23:22, 6 November 2010 (UTC)
The Darwin image is OK and more relevant to the part of the article which is alongside. The image was of an attractive female face, there are numerous results from the Google Scholar search attractive female face sexual selection and there are also numerous results from the Google Scholar search Naomi Campbell ATTRACTIVE BEAUTIFUL FACE. The image had the caption "Across a wide range of cultures a female face is seen as attractive if it has high eyebrows, widely spaced large eyes with dilated pupils, high cheekbones, a small nose, a narrow face with thin cheeks, a large smile, a full lower lip, a small chin, and a full hairstyle." I suggested changing the caption to "There is cross-cultural agreement on what constitutes facial attractiveness " for which there is a good secondary source reference. There was never the slightest suggestion that skinny models are attractive, I take your point that fashion models are associated with being underweight and I'd have preferred not to use an image of such a recognizable one, there just are not any images showing the faces of unknown females of diverse ancestry for whom there are reliable sources stating that they are attractive. Do you see why it was of a celebrity now? The image was of an attractive female face which is relevant to sexual selection, of a particular female with an attractive face and with a caption stating attractive female faces are regarded as such across a wide range of cultures and I think I have sufficient support for all these assertions in the links above. Cross-cultural agreement on facial attractiveness for which I have a secondary source is not refuted by the fact that there is not the same level of agreement about bodily attractiveness. There is cross-cultural agreement that fashion models are well below the weight at which they would look most attractive, I don't think anyone disagrees with that! Overagainst (talk) 19:10, 7 November 2010 (UTC)
As I have mentioned before, I don't dispute that physical attractiveness or facial attractiveness are part of sexual selection theories, only that presently they do not form the core of these theories, and per WP:UNDUE, we should give them appropriate weight in the article. We should give them the same weight that secondary sources on the subject give them. They are discussed, but many of the secondary sources on sexual selection do not go into great detail into the actual mechanics of facial attractiveness. It's an interesting topic on its own. As I have mentioned before, even ugly people, bear the scars of sexual selection, therefore sexual selection isn't just about pretty people and this article should cover sexual selection as it relates to the evolution of the human species as a whole. Wapondaponda (talk) 08:04, 8 November 2010 (UTC)
It is crucial that an article on this topic be sourced to reliable sources on medicine, and I can suggest a growing list of those, for which I am always eager to accept suggestions of more sources. I will edit this article, and any article on a medically related topic, at will to make sure the article content conforms to the standards of such sources. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 02:28, 13 November 2010 (UTC)
"Wikipedia's articles, while not intended to provide medical advice, are nonetheless an important and widely used source of health information.[1] Therefore, it is vital that biomedical information in articles be based on reliable published sources and accurately reflect current medical knowledge." Quite. It is not immediately obvious to me that the topic of 'Sexual selection in human evolution' is a medically related one or why it ought to contain anything which falls under the ruberics for health information you cite. The (featured article) Schizophrenia certainly is and it contains a subsection on 'Controversies and research directions' and 'Causes.' I think it is permissable to present proposed explainations if it is made clear they are one hypothesis and the opinion of a named individual, not the most widely accepted scientific explanation. I think it has been made clear that the hypotheses are just that, however the article has been further qualified to make it even clearer that these are proposed explainations not proven fact. Sexual selection is thought to have influenced the general phenotypic differences between black people and white people. The reference is one of the suggested 'reliable sources'.Overagainst (talk) 19:12, 13 November 2010 (UTC)

The last part about glans ridge as sperm displacement must have a reference!

Penis size[edit]

It has been suggested the evolution of the human penis towards larger size...

Well, I kind of doubt that the evolution was indeed towards "larger size". Google images shows quite a range of penis sizes :-) Where was this suggestion made? Kaligelos (talk) 19:28, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

Section dealing with pigmentation traits is 'Bizarrely Focused'[edit]

This article is still bizarrely focused on skin color. It was so bizarre that I came to this page figuring there must be some discussion. Why is there a paragraph on skin color in the intro? In the section "Darwin and more recent hypotheses" the only "more recent" theory is one about skin color. Why is the section on "Direction and intensity of sexual selection" so focused on skin color? Likewise the "criticism" section is mostly about skin color. I have no objection to the skin color stuff being here but why not have a separate header for "skin color and other pigmentation" so it is at least frank, and so the holes are more clear? That is my suggestion -- a section for "skin color and other pigmentation" at the same level as "sexual dimorphism" and moving the paragraph from the intro, and other sections, into that section.Jytdog (talk) 16:25, 18 March 2012 (UTC) Further on this, it seems that the entire section on "Direction and intensity of sexual selection" says nothing about this in general and is solely focused on reprising Peter Frost's theory on why European women (and thus Europeans) have diversity in pigmentation (he seems to believe that Europeans have more pigment diversity than other peoples -- is this even true?) In any case I suggest eliminating this section it is not what it says it is. I would like to move this long explanation to the article on Frost, and editing down a brief paragraph on Frost's ideas about pigmentation and putting it in to the section on sexual dimorphism in this article. Let me know your thoughts!Jytdog (talk) 16:45, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

Page is about sexual selection in humans is it not? An article about Sexual selection in humans is going to have to say something about proposed explanations for human pigmentation traits that are based on theories of sexual selection. Nothing is stated as a fact. Go to the main Sexual selection page and look at the brightly colored Bird-of-paradise. There was some irrelevant stuff on skin color which I removed, there is virtually nothing on skin color now. The hypothesis being discussed deals with eye and skin pigmentation, not skin color. You state "he seems to believe that Europeans have more pigment diversity than other peoples". In respect of eye and hair colors yes. blue eyes, light hair. That book could be the ref if you believe it's controversial enough to require one.Overagainst (talk) 22:12, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
Changes you made today made the Frost section even longer. This is not an article on Frost... and the whole discussion boils down to an explanation for different pigment in women. I intend to move this whole discussion to the Frost article and put a very condensed paragraph on Frost in the dimorphism section.Jytdog (talk) 02:30, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
"I intend to move this whole discussion". It is unclear what you mean by 'this discussion' This is talk page for the Sexual selection in human evolution article. We are discussing ongoing improvements to a section on a 'theory' (hypothesis ) that sexual selection resulted in the evolution of a diversity of skin and hair colors in Europe. You ask "Why is the section on "Direction and intensity of sexual selection" so focused on skin color?" it isn't it is almost entirely about diversity of hair and eye colors. The theory is that there was intense sexual selection of novel eye and hair colors and that this selection operated in one direction. If the section title is misleading the remedy is to change it. You have cited no source or reference for assertions that the subject of hair, eye and skin color is identical to that of Sexual dimorphism, or that the the theory of eye hair and skin color being related to sexual selection is a fringe one. A very condensed paragraph sounds like you are going to treat it as a fringe theory. The article contains a good reference for theories of sexual selection of hair skin and eye color being thought likely by reputable figures in the scientific mainstream, thereby qualifying for mention in a Wikipedia article on Sexual selection in human evolution "Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation among experts on the subject" . Reference three in the article is Linda Stone, Paul F. Lurquin, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza,. Genes, culture, and human evolution: a synthesis, Blackwell (2007). pages 145-146. Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza is one of the worlds most renowned geneticists.
I certainly agree that refs were lacking. However you inserted highly unencyclopedic language to the effect that things were 'assumed' even when the refs were there. I tried to provide references for the text in my edits and that hardly counts as expanding it. The article still needs work, condensing the section takes time so please be a little patient. The changes made were to bring the article in line with Wikipedia:Reliable sources and undue weight it is not stated in wikipedia's voice that the theory is true and it is made clear who is advancing the hypothesis. "Neutral Point of View says that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a verifiable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each[...]If a viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents". It is proper to name the person advancing the hypothesis. Human skin color article says "The leading explanation is that skin color adapts to sunlight intensities which produce vitamin D or ultraviolet light damage to folic acid.[4] Other hypotheses include protection from ambient temperature, infections, skin cancer or frostbite, an alteration in food, and sexual selection. The ref for that is [Juzeniene, Asta; Setlow, Richard; Porojnicu, Alina; Steindal, Arnfinn Hykkerud; Moan, Johan (2009). "Development of different human skin colors: A review highlighting photobiological and photobiophysical aspects". Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology 96 (2): 93–100.]" I cannot see that there is any support for claiming that the topic of the section does not belong in the article as there are two good references provided for this being a mainstream theory about sexual selection in human evolution. Overagainst (talk) 11:15, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
I expect an article on "sexual selection in human evolution" to focus broadly on human traits that may have been subject to sexual selection. As it is there is an overwhelming focus on pigmentation. A discussion on pigmentation is great - no problem with that whatsoever - but the article should briefly describe major theories on the subject to provide an overview of the whole field. Detailed descriptions of any individual theory should go in separate articles. The discussion on Frost is very very detailed. Too detailed for an article that is meant to be an overview of the whole field. That is why I suggest moving the whole long discussion to the article on Frost, and replacing it with a much more condensed version - a "mention" as you aptly put it.
I grant your point that the Frost section is not just skin pigmentation but pigmentation more broadly. I still don't understand what the section title "Direction and intensity of sexual selection" has to do with the content of that section, which is 100% a description of Frost's theory. We need to fix this. We could change it to "pigmentation" and provide a brief description of Frost's ideas and those of others. That would work. What do you think of that?Jytdog (talk) 12:58, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
"I expect an article on "sexual selection in human evolution" to focus broadly on human traits that may have been subject to sexual selection. As it is there is an overwhelming focus on pigmentation. " Sounds like you think the article is giving undue weight to a fringe topic, but I have given two solid references for a reliable scientific sources saying pigmentation may have been subject to sexual selection. The article currently mentions body size, skin tone, intelligence, culture, art, music, dance, verbal creativity and humour, brains, breasts, facial hair, pubic hair and the genitals of both sexes. I have raised no objection to a more extensive treatment of them or of sections on other human characteristics being in the article. Your edits on female genital mutilation were good. Sexual dimorphism would not be an appropriate place to have text on hair and skin colors as men have the same eye and skin colors that women do. I have changed text and altered the title of the subsection on European hair and eye colors. Overagainst (talk) 14:13, 19 March 2012 (UTC)


Thanks for the discussion and for compromising with me! Headers are much better and is more encyclopedia-like now. You took out a lot of material on Peter Frost - I hope you copied it into the article on Frost so it is not lost (that is what I meant by "move the discussion...") Thanks very much! Great editing work. I'll be reading and adding stuff as time goes on to add further content. Fascinating topic. Jytdog (talk) 00:45, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
Suggestions of a connection between sexual selection and the skin color of Europeans seemed to be the thing you were objecting to. I don't know if you plan on adding more about cultural practices, there is already a lot considering the article is about 'Sexual selection in human evolution'. Overagainst (talk) 13:13, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

POV tag[edit]

This article is disproportionally focused on human skin color and controversial racist theories.
The general scientific consensus is that human skin color variation is mainly the consequence of natural selection. Darker skin protects against harmful solar radiation at low latitudes and lighter skin can provide more vitamin D at higher latitudes. Immediately after the loss of body hair of humans, the human skin was originally light-colored (as it is with chimpanzees and other apes). Over time human hair disappeared to allow better heat dissipation through sweating and the skin tone grew darker to increase the protection against solar radiation. About 70,000–100,000 years ago some modern humans began to migrate away from the tropics to the north where they were exposed to less intense sunlight, possibly in part due to the need for greater use of clothing to protect against the colder climate. In these higher latitudes evolutionary pressure stopping lighter skin gene variants from surviving was reduced and as lighter skin could produce more vitamin D it meant an evolutionary advantage against dark skin.
Another considerable fact is that human skin color is proportional to the latitude of the indigenous population of a particular geographic area. In Africa, South East Asia, and Oceania people have dark pigmentation, in Europe, Asia, and in polar regions populations have light pigmentation. All of these facts and tanning behavior could not be explained by sexual selection. FonsScientiae (talk) 19:24, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
FonsScientiae, I had the same sense. But I tried to fix it. Instead of doing a hit and run like this, please dig in and help fix it. Jytdog (talk) 23:01, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

Before slapping on a POV tag, please identify some text in the article that is a problem, and briefly say why. What text is part of a controversial racist theory? It's alright for a hypothesis to be wrong—that doesn't make it racist, and there are reputable views that sexual selection was a strong force in at least some cases (although I think everyone agrees with the comments above about the origin of dark skin). For example, here is a view from Jared Diamond which includes opinions on inhabitants of Tasmania. Johnuniq (talk) 02:02, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

I had problem with the second part of the lead. I did not have time fix it, that's the reason I tagged it. I was going to fix it at a later time but I didn't think it was a bad practice to tag it. In the meantime other editors can notice and improve the article.
I changed the tag to Wikipedia:undue weight as I believe this tag more properly describes the state of article. FonsScientiae (talk) 03:56, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
FonsScientiae, your recent changes are great! Thanks.Jytdog (talk) 17:33, 5 August 2012 (UTC)
Thank you. Yours too. FonsScientiae (talk) 16:19, 6 August 2012 (UTC)

Genital mutilation[edit]

I've tagged the Genital mutilation section for POV as it deals with a single academician's views on the matter. If we're unable to find further sources on it, it's probably given undue weight within the article as a whole. Finnusertop (talk | guestbook | contribs) 19:09, 21 September 2015 (UTC)

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