In the recent research, scientists made an interesting discovery – throughout the human evolution, the male population mostly sired more than one woman’s children. The same situation appeared in the animal world. Even though we know there are some exemplars of monogamy, most DNA paternity tests revealed that these animals are not that radical in their decisions, at least socially. Even though some couples are fitting the ideal of choosing one and only love, mostly it doesn’t mean that they do not engage in occasional affairs elsewhere.
Some Animals are Faithful
On the one hand, there are some animal species that reveal the exemplary cases of choosing one life partner. By referring to them, psychologists show that the ideal of open communication, shared ideals, and mutual respect between two partners can be true. Among them, Lar gibbons, swans, and Malagasy giant rats can serve as a role model for human beings. Other monogamous animals worth mentioning are owl monkeys (rare primates), waved albatrosses, California mice, black vultures, shingleback skinks (Australian reptiles), sandhill cranes, prairie voles (common lab exemplars of monogamy), convict cichlids, and Kirk’s dik-diks (sort of African antelopes). Not so many, but they exist!
On the other hand, monogamy among animals does not necessarily last a lifetime – more commonly, it is just a couple of breeding seasons. In the already small portion of monogamous animals (only 5 percent of the whole animal species population), recent DNA tests revealed that not every couple in the chosen species is free from “extra-pair copulations.” In other words, even the above-mentioned stable couples are not free from human sins. Among the commonly monogamous animals, gibbons can sometimes philander, swans males do not hesitate to mess around (sorry, poor romantics!), and rat widows always welcome the new father for their children. The same situation appears in the couples of albatrosses, California mice, one-fifth of shingleback skinks couples, “extra-pair copulation events” among sandhill cranes, and some desperate prairie voles. Notwithstanding, there is the place for the fairy-tale love in an animal world. Specifically, couples of black ventures are truly faithful to their partners, and DNA testing failed to prove the opposite. The same situation appeared in questioning the fidelity of owl monkeys – no cheating revealed. In addition, convict cichlids and owl monkeys are mutually responsible for protecting their offspring: while cichlids suck their children into their mouths to bring them somewhere safe, male owl monkeys dedicate their time to caring their youth (while females look after the infants). Finally, Kirk’s dik-diks males are clearly jealous of their wives, protecting them from the others so tender and passionately that females are no longer interested in anyone else.
So, don’t think that monogamy is the myth – there are some truly faithful animals that are fully satisfied with only one partner. However, don’t think that monogamy is the reality – all the creatures can sometimes let themselves try something (or someone) new. The animal world is variable and social, and both philandering and passionate fidelity may appear there. Nothing is true once and forever, just as in the human world!