SELECTING GOOD GENES FOR
When I had published my social insect and lizard work in 1976 I saw two topics ahead of me worth developing: one was a theory of mate choice, and the other, a theory of self-deception. For various reasons I was slow to develop either topic. In chapter 8 I describe my thinking on self-deception. Here I introduce the only paper I managed to publish on a theory of mate choice, a widely neglected paper with Jon Seger, which I believe demonstrates something fundamental, namely, that systems of female choice will naturally evolve with a bias toward the interests of daughters.
Upon finishing my work on parental investment and sexual selection, it was obvious that there was a need for a theory of mate choice based on genetic quality. Trivers (1972) had only managed to clear out the undergrowth on this topic, preparing the land to plant, so to speak, but with very little planted. A case in point is the notion, briefly pushed forward, that females may in some cases prefer older males because their age indicates ability to survive. On second thought, this seems unlikely on its face. For one thing, daily experience in our own species argues against it. Very few women say about me, “Well, Bob is not good-looking, he has an unpleasant personality, and he is difficult to live with, but God, is he old—I'm turned on!” Logic also suggests that this argument is wanting. In one sense, we are all equally old, about four billion years, that is, as old as life itself. The difference between an individual who is sixty years old and one who is twenty is how far back into the past their unique genotypes extend. The genes inside a twenty-year-old have survived just as long as those in a sixtyyear-old. It is just that in the twenty-year-old the genes were united just 21 years ago, from two separate individuals, each conjoined with other genes. In short, they have undergone recombination more recently than have the genes of the sixty-year-old. Since evolution is ongoing, the unique genetic