Essay on Sexual Dimorphism and Human Evolution

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The topic of gender differences must understandably be
approached with caution in our modern world. Emotionally
charged and fraught with ideas about political correctness,
gender can be a difficult subject to address, particularly
when discussed in correlation to behavior and social
behavior. Throughout history, many people have strove to
understand what makes men and women different. Until the
modern era, this topic was generally left up to religious
leaders and philosophers to discuss. However, with the
acquisition of more specialized medical knowledge of human
physiology and the advent of anthropology, we now know a
great deal more about gender differences than at any other
point in history. However, many of our questions still
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the physical
aspect of gender differences in humans, otherwise known as
sexual dimorphism, it’s evolutionary history in our
species, and some behavioral and societal trends that are
associated with it. To accomplish this, I will begin by
outlining the anatomical structures that are commonly used
in measuring sexual dimorphism in our species. After
establishing these criteria, I will expand upon the

evolutionary history of sexual dimorphism in humans
beginning with the anthropoids in the Oligocene and ending
with present day trends. I will conclude this paper by
discussing some of the behavioral traits that have been
thought to correlate with differing degrees of sexual
dimorphism and their plausibility.
Anatomical Structures Used to Study Human Sexual Dimorphism
To discuss sexual dimorphism, one must first define
the term. Webster’s Dictionary defines sexual dimorphism
as “the condition in which differences i...

... middle of paper ...

Bindon, Jim
2004 Fossil Hominids. ANT 270 Notes.

Delson, Eric
1981 Paleoanthropology: Pliocene and Pleistocene
Human Evolution. Paleobiology, 7:3:298-305.

Frayer, David W. and Milford Walpoff
1985 Sexual Dimorphism. Annual Review of
Anthropology, 14:429-473

Key, Catherine A.
2000 The Evolution of Human Life History. World
Archaeology, 31:3:329-350.

Mitani, J.C. et al
1996 Sexual Dimorphism, the Operational Sex Ratio,
and the Intensity of Male Competition in
Polygamous Primates. The American Naturalist,

Rogers, Alan R. and Arindam Mukherjee
1992 Quantitative Genetics of Sexual Dimorphism in
Human Body Size. Evolution,46:1:226-334.

Wolpoff, Milford H.
1976 Some Aspects of the Evolution of Early Hominid
Sexual Dimorphism. Current Anthropology

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