Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Long And Short Of It

Here's an article that purports to explain why men are taller than women.

British scientists have come up with an explanation for why most men are taller than women. They say taller men are more sexually attractive and are more likely to father children.

Men, though, prefer shorter women, so the two sexes are unlikely ever to end up the same height over the course of evolution.


"It seems that tall men and petite women are favoured in evolutionary terms, even in a modern population, so the height difference between men and women is unlikely to disappear," says Daniel Nettle of the Open University.


It seems to me no explanation is given for the very thing they're trying to explain. So the study shows women prefer taller men and men prefer shorter women. Okay, fine, but why? How did these traits come to be considered attractive?

I also wonder about Nettle's argument. The XX versus XY genes account for sex differences, but if women prefer taller men, wouldn't that just mean their children of both sexes would be taller? And the same (in the opposite direction) for men preferring shorter women?

Sexual dimorphism is a fascinating subject. I think, rather than just polling humans, better explanations could be derived from seeing the differences in other primates: male gorillas are much larger than female gorillas, while chimp differences are similar to humans, and gibbons have even less difference. What is it about their lifestyles that could lead to these various biological results?

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read that we should actually expect adult female humans to be shorter, except they needed wider hips to give birth to our big-brained babies, and thus gained longer legs. Otherwise, it might be closer to the gorilla dimorphism.

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