Navigation Links
Multiple fathers prevalent in Amazonian cultures

COLUMBIA, Mo. In modern culture, it is not considered socially acceptable for married people to have extramarital sexual partners. However, in some Amazonian cultures, extramarital sexual affairs were common, and people believed that when a woman became pregnant, each of her sexual partners would be considered part-biological father. Now, a new University of Missouri study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that up to 70 percent of Amazonian cultures may have believed in the principle of multiple paternity.

"In these cultures, if the mother had sexual relations with multiple men, people believed that each of the men was, in part, the child's biological father," said Robert Walker, assistant professor of Anthropology in the College of Arts and Science. "It was socially acceptable for children to have multiple fathers, and secondary fathers often contributed to their children's upbringing."

Walker says sexual promiscuity was normal and acceptable in many traditional South American societies. He says married couples typically lived with the wife's family, which he says increased their sexual freedom.

"In some Amazonian cultures, it was bad manners for a husband to be jealous of his wife's extramarital partners," Walker said. "It was also considered strange if you did not have multiple sexual partners. Cousins were often preferred partners, so it was especially rude to shun their advances."

Previous research had uncovered the existence of multiple paternity in some Amazonian cultures. However, anthropologists did not realize how many societies held the belief. Walker's team analyzed ethnographies (the branch of anthropology that deals descriptively with cultures) of 128 societies across lowland South America, which includes Brazil and many of the surrounding countries. Multiple paternity is reported to appear in 53 societies, and singular paternity is mentioned in 23 societies. Ethnographies for 52 societies do not mention conception beliefs.

Walker's team has several hypotheses on the benefits of multiple paternity. Women believed that by having multiple sexual partners they gained the benefit of larger gene pools for their children. He says women benefited from the system because secondary fathers gave gifts and helped support the child, which has been shown to increase child survival rates. In addition, brutal warfare was common in ancient Amazonia, and should the mother become a widow, her child would still have a father figure.

Men benefitted from the multiple paternity system because they were able to formalize alliances with other men by sharing wives. Walker hypothesizes that multiple paternity also strengthened family bonds, as brothers often shared wives in some cultures.

Walker collaborated with Mark Flinn, professor in the MU Department of Anthropology, and Kim Hill, professor in Arizona State University's School of Human Evolution and Social Change.


Contact: Steven Adams
University of Missouri-Columbia

Related medicine news :

1. Multiple sclerosis will become a controlled disease like AIDS
2. Radiation therapy improves painful condition associated with multiple sclerosis
3. TGen-Mayo Clinic study discovers role of DNA methylation in multiple myeloma blood cancer
4. Results of the placement of multiple endoscopic stents for postoperative biliary strictures remains excellent after long-term follow-up
5. Clinic puts patients at heart of multiple sclerosis research
6. Multiple Sclerosis Changes With the Seasons
7. New studies question vascular multiple sclerosis hypothesis and treatment
8. Multiple sclerosis -- antihypertensive drug ameliorate inflammation in the brain
9. Breast cancer cells regulate multiple genes in response to estrogen-like compounds
10. University at Buffalo launches clinical trial of new multiple sclerosis treatment
11. Clinical Trial Testing New Multiple Sclerosis Treatment to Launch in Buffalo
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... 13, 2015 , ... According to an article published October 5th ... who successfully lose weight with a bariatric procedure are much less likely to develop ... notes that anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of all endometrial cancer cases are ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , ... October 13, 2015 , ... Symposium Chairman, Dr. ... 19th annual Dallas Cosmetic Symposium to be held March 2nd and 3rd, 2016. The ... afterwards, draws plastic surgeons and cosmetic physicians from around the world. , Key topics ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... unique private messaging application, announced today a significant contract that will provide its ... Independence plans to build on the growing success of its Relay program, IBX ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... ... NavaFit Inc. today announced the launch of its NavaFit app for iPhone® ... fitness & sporting events, and stay motivated. Users can download the apps ... to get more serious about fitness and wellness, individuals are constantly looking for new ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Protein is essential to good health. You need it to ... how much protein does the average man need in order to stay healthy? ... 2015 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch . Most Americans get about 15% ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... Calif. , Oct. 13, 2015  Asterias ... agreement with the UK-based Cell Therapy Catapult to ... AST-VAC2, Asterias, allogeneic dendritic cell immunotherapy. Under the ... scale manufacturing processes for AST-VAC2 to support advanced ... --> --> The ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... Apheresis is an invasive process that involves the ... components from whole blood. In this procedure, the blood of ... machine or a blood cell separator. The apheresis equipment spins ... components. A selected part of the blood is removed, and ... patient. It involves the use of devices and disposables along ...
(Date:10/12/2015)... 12, 2015  The Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board ... Pharmacy in Costa Mesa , ... the pharmacy,s commitment to meeting and/or exceeding national ... --> --> ... --> --> Harbor Compounding ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: