Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Men and women battle for ideal height: Evidence of an intralocus sexual conflict currently raging in human DNA

Date:
November 13, 2012
Source:
University of Groningen
Summary:
A battle about the ideal height would appear to be raging in men's and women's genes. A researcher in Sweden has shown that this conflict is leading to a difference in reproductive success between men and women of varying height.

A battle about the ideal height would appear to be raging in men's and women's genes. A researcher in Sweden has shown that this conflict is leading to a difference in reproductive success between men and women of varying height.
Credit: © Franck Boston / Fotolia

A battle about the ideal height would appear to be raging in men's and women's genes. Gert Stulp, PhD candidate at the University of Groningen, has shown that this conflict is leading to a difference in reproductive success between men and women of varying height.

His research has been published in the journal Biology Letters.

"Natural selection is still occurring in human beings, despite birth control and good medical facilities," says Gert Stulp. Together with colleagues from Groningen, Amsterdam and Cambridge (UK), he managed to find evidence of an intralocus sexual conflict currently raging in the DNA of the human race.

"A conflict like this arises because men and women are different and therefore subject to different selection pressures," explains Stulp. A stag, for example, benefits from big antlers, but they would be impractical for a doe. 'Nature has "switched off" antler development in does, so there is no conflict between the male and female animals. However, some of the traits that are helpful to one sex but a hindrance to the other cannot be quite so easily switched off."

This is the case with height in human beings. Short parents tend to produce short daughters and short sons. This benefits the reproductive success of the daughters, but not that of the sons. 'We know that shorter women have more children than women of an average height. With men, this is the other way round.' As short women and men of average height have the most children, their genes are passed on the most.

This difference in selection pressures for human height between the sexes could mean that shorter families are more successful at reproducing via the women, while families of an average height produce more children via the men in the family. This is known as an intralocus sexual conflict: a particular trait (in this case: being short or of average height) is an advantage when it presents in one sex, but a disadvantage when it presents in the other.

The question being addressed is whether this conflict can be demonstrated in humans. Stulp studied the number of children born to brothers and sisters in a large-scale American database containing data on thousands of residents of Wisconsin born in 1937 or 1938.

"It turned out that by taking the height of just one individual/person, we could predict whether his or her sibling would produce many or few children. Shorter individuals have a higher chance of becoming an uncle or aunt through their sister, while individuals of average height are more likely to have nephews and nieces via their brother." The sexual conflict relating to body height was clearly visible. "We are the first researchers to actually demonstrate this type of genetic conflict in humans."

It is still unclear why shorter women have more children. "A conflict between growth and reproduction is common in some species of animals," continues Stulp. Short women probably put more energy into reproducing. "In general, the earlier a woman has her first child, the more children she will have. Women with a genetic tendency to have children at a young age also appear to have a genetic tendency to be short. But whatever the reason, evolutionary processes still seem to be alive and kicking in modern society."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Groningen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. G. Stulp, B. Kuijper, A. P. Buunk, T. V. Pollet, S. Verhulst. Intralocus sexual conflict over human height. Biology Letters, 2012; 8 (6): 976 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0590

Cite This Page:

University of Groningen. "Men and women battle for ideal height: Evidence of an intralocus sexual conflict currently raging in human DNA." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121113083536.htm>.
University of Groningen. (2012, November 13). Men and women battle for ideal height: Evidence of an intralocus sexual conflict currently raging in human DNA. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121113083536.htm
University of Groningen. "Men and women battle for ideal height: Evidence of an intralocus sexual conflict currently raging in human DNA." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121113083536.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) — A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins