Facts About Monogamy in Mammals
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as its name suggests, refers to a relationship that is exclusive to
only one mate. The term is derived from the Greek word monos
meaning one and gamos referring to a union or marriage. Scientists
believe that monogamy is not a natural phenomenon in the animal kingdom
but it exists and is, in fact, one of their important mating systems.
Monogamy has a long history in mammals. Although it may
be a rarity, there are actually mammals that stick to just one partner
in their lifetime. In comparison to birds with more than 90 percent
of them being monogamous, only seven percent of mammals observe monogamy
in their social relationships. Sexual monogamy, however, is very rare
among animals as most engage in the so-called extra pair copulations.
Vital Forms Of Monogamy
Studies on a selection of monogamous mammals such as primates,
carnivores and rodents, it has been found that there are two
forms of monogamy – the facultative and obligate. In facultative
monogamy, low densities of species exist such that there’s a
big difference between the number of males and females. This results
in only one member of the opposite sex available for mating.
In obligate monogamy, what happens is one female does not have
the capacity to rear a litter without assistance from her mate.
Additionally, the monogamous trait is a consequence of her habitat
not being capable of allowing more than a single female to breed in
a simultaneous manner within the same area. Other trends observed
among mammals in this type include the young are delayed in their
sexual maturation, the older offspring help in taking care of their
young siblings and the father or the adult male helps in rearing the
young in terms of carrying, feeding, defending and socializing them.
The Monogamous Male
Did you know that male mammals who play a major role in caring
for their young are usually the more monogamous ones? These
exceptional males, however, account only for less than 10 percent
of the male mammals. With this characteristic, they normally improve
the survival chances of their offspring compared to males who copulate
with as many females as they want.
Biologists confirm that of the estimated 4,000 species of mammals, very few
are monogamous. They include the beavers, some rodents of South America (agoustis,
pacas, acouchis, maras), otters, bats, foxes, a few seals, hoofed mammals notably
the small African antelopes (dik-diks, duikers and klipspringers) and primates.
Of the primates, the gibbons, tamarins and marmosets of the tropical countries are
known for being loyal to their partners.
The Reality Of Monogamy
While being monogamous is an admirable trait, it is just not natural among mammals as
evident in the few species found by scientists to be engaging in monogamy. Animals
normally mate with more than one partner and it is their natural instinct.
How humans, notably the males, behave in their sexual relationships has a lot to do
with this biological evolution. Man, by nature as they say, is polygamous. However,
compared to animals, men can definitely do something about their sexual instincts in
that they have the power to control them.