As a follow-up to my talk at the most recent Ancestral Health Symposium (2019) in San Diego, here is an excerpt from my latest submission to the Journal of Evolution and Health about how we arrived at our current state of gender dynamics from an evolutionary perspective.
“A unique facet of human evolution is our having developed such an extensive life stage of childhood dependency. By slowing down maturation, humans are able to achieve more complex brain development than other primates; however, this lengthy dependency results in an enormous economic burden on mothers in terms of the amount of energy, calorically speaking, that those mothers must acquire and spend in the feeding and care of each offspring.
According to Daniel Lieberman in The Story of the Human Body, “It takes a whopping twelve million calories to grow a human into an eighteen-year-old adult.” Notably, for the first nine months of gestation and the subsequent period of nursing until weaning, the mother herself is the primary source of nutrition for her infant. This sunk cost, in terms of both time and caloric energy expenditure, then makes it imperative to her reproductive fitness that such investment continues until the child survives to a level of independence. This results in the most fundamental difference between men and women.
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