The History of Human Marriage - Vol. 1

By Edward Westermarck | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
SECONDARY SEXUAL CHARACTERS IN ANIMALS--FEMALE COYNESS

BESIDES natural selection, which depends on the success of both sexes, at all ages, in relation to the general conditions of life, Darwin introduced another principle, sexual selection, which depends on the success of certain individuals over others of the same sex in relation to the propagation of the species. According to the former principle, those individuals who are most successful in the struggle for existence survive the others, and characters useful to the species are thus inherited; according to the latter, those individuals who have the greatest success in the struggle for mates have the most numerous offspring, and the characters which gave them the preference pass on to the new generation, and are afterwards intensified by the operation of like causes. The sexual struggle is of two kinds. In both it is carried on by individuals of the same sex; but in one these individuals, generally the males, try to drive away or kill their rivals; in the other, they seek to excite or charm those of the opposite sex, generally the females, who select the most attractive males for their partners. Therefore the characters acquired through sexual selection, and transmitted chiefly to offspring of the same sex, generally the males, are, on the one hand, weapons for battle, vigour and courage; on the other hand, certain colours, forms, ornaments, sounds, or odours, which are felt to be pleasant. The secondary sexual characters of the latter sort are thus due to the preference given to them by the females. They have been acquired because they are

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