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Partible paternity, the secondary sex ratio and a possible Trivers-Willard effect

Beckerman, Stephen, Lizarralde, Manuel, Peluso, Daniela M., Yvinec, Cédric, Harris, Nathan, Parker, Daniel, Walker, Robert, Hill, Kim (2017) Partible paternity, the secondary sex ratio and a possible Trivers-Willard effect. Current Anthropology, 58 (4). pp. 540-543. ISSN 0011-3204. (doi:10.1086/692984) (KAR id:61719)


Partible paternity, the belief that a child can have more than one biological father, is widespread in lowland South America. An analysis of demographic data sets from four lowland tribes (Aché, Barí, Ese Eja, and Surui) reveals a systematic variation in the sex ratios of live births with respect to the number of fathers to whom the births are attributed. Births attributed to only one father show a sex ratio that is unexceptional for South America; births with two fathers are highly male biased, while children with three or more are female biased. This pattern may be a manifestation of a phenomenon predicted by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis, which proposes that, in many circumstances, females in good condition might bias their offspring toward males, while those in poor condition would produce a preponderance of females. If, as suggested below, a woman with a husband and a single extramarital lover tends to be better cared for before and during a pregnancy than other women, this difference might result in the improved maternal condition required by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis for excess males, while women who accept two or more lovers might be preponderantly those who are already in distress, thus tending to produce female biased offspring.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1086/692984
Uncontrolled keywords: partible paternity, secondary fathers, relatedness, birth, Trivers-Willard
Subjects: F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F1201 Latin America (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women > HQ21 Sexual behavior and attitudes
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Daniela Peluso
Date Deposited: 15 May 2017 09:23 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 17:08 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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