DNA analysis suggests humanity has more mothers than fathers


LEIPZIG, Germany, Oct. 1 (UPI) —

Throughout human history monogamy has been a sexual philosophy largely eschewed by men, yet demanded of women. This was especially so for men of early human societies, who preferred the company of numerous wives.

We know this much thanks to the research skills of several generations of anthropologists. And now, this understanding has been confirmed by DNA analysis and the work of researchers in the field of human evolution. As a recent study of human DNA revealed, humanity has absorbed the genetics of many more mothers than fathers — further proof the men of early societies fathered children with multiple women.

"[Historically] more of the women were reproducing than the men," Mark Stoneking, a biological anthropologist at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, told Live Science. "This often happens in human societies, because not all men are able to afford wives, or sometimes a few men will have many wives."

Stoneking and his colleagues used a new technique for observing the variances within the paternally inherited Y chromosome, passed down from father to son, and the mitochondrial DNA, the genes inherited from mothers. After collecting DNA samples of 623 males sourced from 51 populations around the world, including Australian, European, and American populations, researchers were able to show that females not only reproduced more frequently than males, but that women also migrated more often.

Because women of early societies often traveled for marriages, moving in with their husbands in a faraway village, females spread their DNA around geographically, resulting in fewer variances from population to population. Men and their sons, on the other hand, tended to stay put, enabling male DNA to remain more distinct from place to place.

Researchers hope these new DNA analysis techniques can continue to be used to learn more about the history of humanity’s fathers and mothers.

The study was published last week in the journal Investigative Genetics.