How we’re like gorillas with kids

December 9, 2021 by Joshua
in Evolutionary Psychology, Nature

You know how male gorillas kill babies from other fathers?

As written here, “silverbacks have been observed to deliberately kill babies—especially in mountain gorillas. Usually this is the case after a female transferred to another male together with her baby or if a new leading male takes over. This behaviour, called infanticide, is interpreted as a means to shorten the time until the baby’s mother becomes fertile again and the new male can sire his own offspring with her.”?

The behavior made sense in the species’ evolutionary past. When they’re close to extinction, if a gorilla wants to maximize its chances of its genes surviving, the extra baby from another gorilla may help more, even if he has to wait longer for his chance to become a father.

We humans have an opposite danger: we’ve overpopulated the planet. Gorillas risk dying out from too few of them. We risk it from too many of us. Even if we don’t risk extinction as much as they do, we risk a lot of people dying.

Humans having many kids made sense in our evolutionary past. When we’re this overpopulated and more people means more demands on resources we don’t have, if we want to maximize our chances of our genes surviving, fewer kids may help more.

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