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:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... A team of Swiss ... to treat it. Surviving Mesothelioma has just posted the findings on the website. ... Zurich analyzed the cases of 136 mesothelioma patients who were treated with chemotherapy followed ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... The ... of USA Today in Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Minneapolis, South Florida, with a ... component is distributed nationally, through a vast social media strategy and across a ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... Microsoft Dynamics SL User Group (MSDSLUG). Recognized as Microsoft’s official group for end ... Microsoft Dynamics SL software users, partners, industry experts and representatives. Intellitec Solutions’ membership ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... 2015 , ... CBD College is proud to announce that on ... accreditation to its Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. CBD College is honored to join this ... colleges and universities in the state of California make the cut. CBD College is ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... ... Indosoft Inc., developer and distributor of the world-class Asterisk ... Term Support) into its Q-Suite 5.10 product line. , Making the change to ... of Asterisk that will receive not only security fixes, but feature and bug ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... Ein neuer Kombinationsansatz vereint ... --> Ein neuer Kombinationsansatz vereint Immuntherapie ... --> Ein neuer Kombinationsansatz vereint Immuntherapie ... Clinical Cancer Research vom 6. November ... vom 6. November 2015 berichtet. --> ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... Un nuevo enfoque combina la ... cáncer avanzado.   --> Un nuevo ... Bremachlorin para el cáncer avanzado.   --> ... la terapia fotodinámica de Bremachlorin para el cáncer avanzado. ... --> Clinical Cancer Research . --> ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 Research and Markets ( ) ... Pacemaker Market Outlook to 2019 - Rise in Cardiac Disorders ... report to their offering. Boston ... Boston scientific and others. --> ... Biotronik, Boston scientific and others. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: