Infanticide as a tactic to increase dominant males’ opportunity for sex

by Olivia LaRosa, November 20, 2014

“The study confirms that infanticide isn’t some curious thing caused by humans encroaching on animal territory, it is a male tactic to improve their mating opportunities,” said Kit Opie, from the University College London.

If the female is involved in caring for an infant, the male baboon feels neglected. The ownership of the infant lies with the mother.

It also appears that the females of these species have come up with a strategy to prevent the males from killing their young and this involves mating with as many males as they can in a short time. This strategic promiscuity makes it difficult to discern the infant’s paternity and the males stop killing the young if there is the possibility that the offspring is their own.

Strategic promiscuity stops male baboons from asserting an ownership interest in an infant, and therefore the right to murder it.

“Infanticide primarily evolves in social mammals in which reproduction is monopolized by a minority of males,” the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the journal Science on Nov. 14. “It has not promoted social counterstrategies such as female gregariousness, pair living, or changes in group size and sex ratio, but is successfully prevented by female sexual promiscuity, a paternity dilution strategy.”

Having lived in a nuclear family situation for most of my life, I can’t say I recommend it. The ideal family unit is the mother and her children. Men can drop in, but they are not to be relied upon for support. Mother and children receive sufficient income to raise children that can explore their potential to contribute to society.

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