Daily Archives: April 21, 2014

Final Paper

For my last blog post, I think it’s appropriate to post my idea for my final paper. My paper aims to answer the question, why do humans use contraception if according to strictly evolutionary terms, each individual’s ultimate goal should be to reproduce infinitely? I decided to approach answering the question by first finding examples of natural checks on offspring numbers in other species (which is comparable to our means of artificial control over offspring numbers). Most of the data I encountered was found in birds. One of the most extreme examples off offspring number control was in the Altricial bird. When food is scarce at the time of recently hatched offspring, the siblings compete to get the most food. In this way, a sort of size hierarchy is created as the largest birds are able to outcompete their nest mates. Often, the smallest of the offspring starves to death: a natural check on number of offspring (Godfray et. al.).

A similar check can be found in humans but it is expressed in writing quite differently. It makes sense to say that humans can only have as many children as they can support financially. This is just like how if there are too many offspring in a laying, one of the offspring will most likely starve due to lack of food resources. So, when someone says they use contraceptives to avoid a pregnancy due to financial reasons, although it sounds very different, the comparison to the altricial bird is actually quite similar-it has to do with available resources.

My paper expands upon these ideas, has more examples, more in depth explanation of reasoning to avoid pregnancy in humans, and also the greater evolutionary concept at work. The paper that mentions the Altricial bird is linked below.