Why settle for Average Joe when Mr. Perfect could be just around the corner? Well, from an evolutionary standpoint, conjugating sooner with someone more immediately available rather than waiting for someone else to come along was a better strategy for early species survival, a study published this week in the journal Nature found.
For humans’ earliest relatives, choosing a companion with whom to procreate was all about weighing risks -- choose too soon, and she might have found herself in the shallow end of the gene pool. But hold out too long, and perhaps she would have never produce offspring at all, researchers from Michigan State University in East Lansing found.
"An individual might hold out to find the perfect mate but run the risk of coming up empty and leaving no progeny," Chris Adami, a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at the university and co-author of the study, said in a statement. "Settling early for the sure bet gives you an evolutionary advantage, if living in a small group."
Researchers found members of a species raised in smaller groups were more likely to avoid risk than those raised in larger communities. Their conclusions were based on computer models that monitored and recorded risk behavior among digital organisms. "We do not all evolve to be the same," Adami told MLive. "Evolution creates a diversity in our acceptance of risk, so you see some people who are more likely to take bigger risks than others. We see the same phenomenon in our simulations." Early humans tended to cluster in groups of fewer than 150 individuals.
The concept of a soul mate has long occupied the minds of those looking for love. The idea came from Greek mythology and an ancient tale written by 4th century B.C. playwright Aristophanes, according to Psychology Today. His story was about a two-headed giant who was part male and part female and was one day ripped apart by Zeus, destined to always pursue the other half.
Other research has shown the idea humans are pair-bonded -- that the search for the ideal mate has its roots in evolution -- was probably just a concept that came from Western biases about propriety and love. Some scientists have argued cooperative breeding, in which groups of parents actively take part in the well-being of society’s children and never really form monogamous bonds, could be a better model for ensuring the endurance of the species.