Sexual selection in human evolution  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Charles Darwin described sexual selection as depending "on the advantage that certain individuals have over others of the same sex and species solely in respect of reproduction". In animals he saw the competition for advantage as occurring between males; the most successful of which were chosen by females. However in humans Darwin came to think the evidence pointed toward male choice, he believed sexual selection could explain otherwise puzzling features of the human species including some aspects of appearance which vary geographically but seem to be trivial and superficial such as beards. It has been suggested that Darwin was attracted to understanding human evolution through a sexual selection hypothesis because he felt it upheld the unity of humankind against pro-slavery demagoguery by explaining how black people and white people had come to look unalike while emphasizing they were not separate species. Modern hypotheses which build on Darwin's ideas have mooted a geographical contrast in the intensity and direction of sexual selection between Europe and Africa. The general phenotypic differences between black people and white people are probably the result of both natural selection and sexual selection. Although skin color can be a target of sexual selection the skin color variation in humans is thought to be a result of natural selection along a latitude gradient.

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