Desmond Morris Syndrome: No selective advantage

Study: Men prefer women who look like them November 29, 2012 in Psychology & Psychiatry

Excerpt: “Numerous studies have been carried out on the characteristics that make a woman physically attractive. Most of these studies have focused on traits linked to hormonal levels and fertility. The work reported by the Isem researchers is, on the contrary, based on characteristics that offer no particular selective advantage, such as eye color and lip thickness.”

My comment: The molecular mechanisms of mate choice in every other species involve nutrient chemical-dependent species-specific production of pheromones that signal reproductive fitness and genetic similarity or diversity via epigenetic effects of the pheromones on intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression.

When mate preferences are correlated with the visual appeal of physical characteristics, the molecular biology of adaptive evolution in species from microbes to man is discounted to favor what has been called Desmond Morris Syndrome (DMS), where story-telling that incorporates evolutionary theory is better accepted than the basic principles of biology and levels of biological organization required to link sensory input to behavior in all species.

Do you have DMS? If you believe the story told in this representation of the published work, you probably do. Unfortunately, it can only be treated with education in scientific pursuits. Here’s a quick update on scientific pursuits.

In my model of  how chemical ecology drives adaptive evolution, I stated clearly that olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans. In Current Biology, an In-Press article on November 21, 2012 details that fact in the mouse model. Nutrient chemical-dependent adaptive evolution of a two-step biosynthesis pathway caused de novo production of a sex-specific species-specific odor associated with a synchronous olfactory receptor-mediated behavioral response. The senior author of that paper had reported in 2006 on the receptor-mediated behavior with a 2004 Nobel Laureate who in 2005 reported effects of pheromones on behaviors that appear to involve GnRH neurons. Sans caveats about differences across species, the latest research report includes this statement in the abstract: “Synchronized changes in odor biosynthesis pathways and odor-evoked behaviors could ensure species-appropriate social interactions.” Nothing I’ve read in the past 16 years fails to support the model we first detailed in in our 1996 Hormones and Behavior paper: From fertilization to adult sexual behavior.

 

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Author: James Kohl

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