Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Microstory 1647: Biological Soulmates

There are a few different universes that have the same, or similar, rules about this sort of thing, but I’ll only talk about the one. Evolution is a pretty simple concept when you really get down to it. A mutation occurs in an individual specimen. If it doesn’t prevent that individual from surviving, that trait is more likely to be passed down to the next generation. It doesn’t matter if the trait is good or bad. It only has to be good enough to survive in the bloodline (i.e. to not prevent that bloodline from continuing). There are some evolutionary traits that shouldn’t exist, and some have suggested that this is evidence that some higher power is up there, making decisions. I don’t think that’s true, but the universe today is crazy enough to make me doubt my faith in science. When two members of the opposite sex have intercourse for the first time, they will be forever bonded to each other, on multiple levels. They will release chemicals that not only prevent them from producing children with different partners, but also from even having sex with other people. If they try, it will hurt. Two sexually incompatible partners who attempt to join will both be flooded with painful chemicals that flow throughout their bodies, and don’t stop until the sex stops. Other universes have similar compatibility limitations, but don’t take it this far. They can still choose multiple partners, it’s just that they can only produce offspring with their so-called soulmates. Why did evolution come up with this? What could possibly drive such a ridiculous series of traits? Well, the obvious answer is that forcing a single soulmate encourages the family dynamic, which supports the stable upbringing of a child. But is that enough? Apparently so, but it doesn’t make much sense; not according to evolutionary biology.

As I was saying, an evolutionary trait will persist down the bloodline if it doesn’t prevent the bloodline itself from persisting. This should not have happened in this case. The first sign of this incompatibility trait should have been stopped shortly after the mutation appeared. Most animals copulate with multiple partners. They’re all just trying to pass their genetic information onto their descendants. It’s the number one biological imperative. Restricting an individual to one lifelong partner is fine for humans, and a few other animals, but only when it’s a choice, or rather, only when it’s not the only avenue. Most of the time, monogamy is not a very good survival trait, and it doesn’t always support the biological imperative. Sure, perhaps a child is better off being raised consistently by two parents, but evolution isn’t about the survival of an individual. It’s about the continuity of the species as a whole, and math tells us that having a lot of children has been the default tactic for most of evolutionary history. Monogamy only works well when you have options, not when it’s unavoidable. What if the father dies after only producing one child? It’s up to that child to continue the bloodline, and if it also dies, then it’s over. It’s much better if the mother can go find another partner, and give their first child half-siblings. While the original father’s genetic traits may end, at least hers has a chance to go on. All this being said, the arguments against this sort of thing don’t seem to have stopped it from happening to the humans who evolved in this universe, so there must be some significant benefit that I’m not seeing. Despite the bizarre constraints, the residents have been quite successful, and even prosperous.

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