The History of Human Marriage - Vol. 1

By Edward Westermarck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
A HUMAN PAIRING SEASON IN PRIMITIVE TIMES

IT has been assumed by some physiologists that the periodicity in the sexual life of animals depends upon economic conditions, the reproductive matter being a surplus of the individual economy. Hence, it is said, their sexual season occurs when the proportion between receipts and expenditure is most favourable.1

According to Mr. Heape, on the other hand, the sexual season is governed by a variety of influence. It may be influenced by the climate of the region in which the animal lives, by the seasons of the year when these are of marked variation, and by the supply of food, or possibly by the nature of the food, obtainable; by special nervous, vascular, and secretory peculiarities of the individual and its habits of life; and by the length of gestation, the claims of the newly-born offspring on the mother, and her powers of recuperation.2

There can, of course, be no doubt that the periodicity in question is closely connected with certain conditions

____________________
1
Leuckart, 'Zeugung,' in Wagner, Handwörterbuch der Physiologie, iv. 862. Gruenhagen, Lehrbuch der Physiologie, iii. 528.Cf. Haycraft, "'Some Physiological Results of Temperature Variations,'" in Trans. Roy. Soc. Edinburgh, xxix. 130.
2
Heape, 'The "Sexual Season" of Mammals and the Relation of the "Pro-œstrum" to Menstruation,' in Quarterly Jour Microscop. Science, N.S. vol. xliv. pt. i. 16 sqq.

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