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Attraction : It's biological. It's physical. It's chemical. It's mental. But it doesn't end there. It's also: Detectable. Manageable. Maneuverable.
In THE BODY LANGUAGE OF DATING, Tonya Reiman tackles the question of whether human attraction ...
Attraction : It's biological. It's physical. It's chemical. It's mental. But it doesn't end there. It's also: Detectable. Manageable. Maneuverable.
In THE BODY LANGUAGE OF DATING, Tonya Reiman tackles the question of whether human attraction and seduction have changed over millions of years, drawing lines of flirting symmetry that span millennia, cultures, species, and continents. By looking at the evolutionary purpose of every part of the male and the female body, THE BODY LANGUAGE OF DATING chronicles the evolution of each major human bodily feature-why it is considered attractive or unattractive, good for longevity or detrimental to the gene pool, indicative of sexual success or failure.
Reiman crumples the timeline that separates us from our ancient ancestors to ask, "What has never changed? What attracts opposite sexes to one another, why does it work, and how has it contributed to the longevity of our species?" THE BODY LANGUAGE OF DATING provides the tools needed for success in today's dating scenarios, offering practical tactics for seduction, conversation, connection, and enduring romance.
The Chiseling of Man
HOW EVOLUTION HAS CARVED THE FAMILIAR FORM OF THE HUMAN MALE
Long ago, the returning sun rose over the horizon to give definition to the grassy plains of a sweeping savannah, to four-legged creatures grazing, chasing, and being chased, to winged beings swooping across the sky in search of insects that swarmed around . . . a vastly different, strangely unique creature.
Like a bird, he stood on two legs. Like an ape’s, his musculature was defined and formidable. Like the most cunning of predators, he swept his surroundings with his gaze, his defenses and reflexes sharp. Like the most vulnerable of prey, he stood unprotected upon the harsh, unforgiving plains of what would one day be known as Africa.
But unlike anything else that had ever stamped itself upon that sunrise, he stood taller than most of the savannah’s four-legged creatures. Two of his feet were not feet at all; in fact, they had long, independent digits. His fur was concentrated, creating a wild and unruly silhouette on his head, above a body that was utterly hairless, and naked. His shoulders were wide, his legs were long, his appendages and extremities unlike any yet supported by this vast bio-network.
As strange as early man must have seemed, a unique characteristic still lay hidden beneath that tuft of unkempt, yet useful, hair on his head. His brain would serve as his largest and most effective weapon, his ally in modernization, and his sexiest of organs. Because his environment would demand more and more of his brain, man’s face and stature would change in order to survive.
The changes that have occurred in man’s face and body over millions of years make that early man recognizable to us, but far from familiar.
Evolution is a term that’s loaded with controversy for some, with answers for others, and with a taboo-type intrigue for the rest. To understand the concept of evolving characteristics, you must first consider the many variations of the human form. There are tall statures and short ones; flat ears and those that seem to fear the head; blue eyes and brown ones; red hair and blond; big noses, broad shoulders, full lips, and skinny hips. Every human face and every body is unique.
Evolution is not something that happened autonomously, or without reason. It wasn’t some kind of magical transformation, in which bodies morphed in cut time while the rest of creation stood and watched in awe. Instead, evolution occurred over millions of years as humans effectively eliminated, through mating choices, the bum traits that could have resulted in the extermination of our species.
Humans and apes are genetically comparable because they share ancestral similarities.
Your sixteenth cousin, Jethro, isn’t the only ape you have little in common with. In a relative sense, even though the genetic similarities between humans and great apes are more stunning than many of us would care to admit (wouldn’t any of us pick our noses or throw feces at our enemies if it were socially permissible?), humans are still vastly different, more complicated, more intelligent, and more spiritual than the animals that may or may not put cousin Jethro’s sophistication to shame.
Evolution can be viewed through any number of lenses. It can be perceived as something that occurred to assure our species’ survival, as a by-product of sexy mating choices, or as the result of random genetic drift. The facet of the theory on which your beliefs rest can only be determined by you; but no matter your position, the evidence that points toward evolution is difficult, if not impossible, to deny.
Today’s men, on average, are 30 percent stronger than their female counterparts. Males generally carry about 12.5 percent body fat, while females (often reluctantly) hold on to percentages right around 25. The typical male’s body boasts 56 pounds of muscle, while the female’s sports a healthy, but less significant, 30 pounds. A healthy male can lift twice his own body weight, thanks to lungs, a heart, bones, and muscles that outweigh a female’s. On average, he’s 7 percent taller and 10 percent weightier than a female.
Many of the human male’s gifts, aside from the obvious, are evident within the womb, and particularly right after birth. Maternity staff members often note higher hemoglobin counts, longer body measurements, heavier birth weights, higher resting metabolisms, and more lively movements from the little tykes. Likewise, human male children show a propensity for horseplay, have a seemingly insatiable curiosity, and have a better visual acuteness for snails and puppy dog tails than their sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice counterparts. It seems that, even from the womb, the human male is being prepared for the tough jobs that his ancestors had assigned him.
Millions of years ago, females, due mostly in part to their childbearing roles, were needed back at the home caves to raise children, to gather berries and other nonviolent foods, and to keep the bedrocks warm. They were simply too indispensable in the raising of future generations to put into the field, for hunting and fighting.
Men could inseminate their women and then move on to provide for the tribe. Men were drawn to the harsh savannahs in search of food and conquests; they were subjected to harsh weather, injury, and stress. The male bodies that were best built to survive these environmental traumas lived to procreate and pass their survival features along to their offspring. This ideal demonstrates Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Darwin maintained, as much of the scientific community does today, that features have survived because they offered some benefit to their bearers. Many of the human male’s features that we recognize today are in place because they allowed those human males not only to live through a tough day in the field, but to come home and make more babies who would carry on robust survival features.
That’s why distinctly male features have survived—because they worked, and they still do.
Let’s begin with the feature that not only allowed human males to stand erect and to run from predators that could have easily wiped out mankind, but also now keeps establishments that specialize in everything from wide widths to size fourteens to odor-absorbing insoles in business.
Biological evidence points to the male foot taking a walk on the wild side. If I could name the most neglected portion of the male form, it might be the foot. Why? Because the foot does not contain any major organs, it isn’t part of any thought-provoking or sexually stimulating tasks (apart from the foot fetish), and it’s generally considered to be unpleasant and merely deserving of being tucked away in a sock with an Odor-Eater and the promise of eventual ventilation.
When you consider the size of humans’ feet in comparison to their tall statures and significant weights, any engineer might believe that they would topple over at a mere friendly slap on the back. A clown with long, bulging shoes looks to be in better balance, proportionately, than the standard-footed human—until, of course, you consider the function of the big toe.
When humans’ predecessors moved from branches to earth, toes that could balance and propel were much more useful than toes that could efficiently peel fruit. Opposable big toes posed serious balance issues for terrestrial walkers, and those with these outward appendages rarely made it out of the starting gate. Early humans needed mobility and speed in order to survive the harsh environments of their nonarboreal (non-tree-dwelling) existence. That’s why today’s human is able to use nicely aligned big toes to push off every time he or she takes a step—because natural selection effectively weeded out those terrestrial-only bipeds who had no such ability.
A man’s arch is generally higher than a woman’s. This is likely due to early man’s need for a spring-loaded step while bounding away from danger and pouncing onto prey and enemies.
Humans are unique in that they walk on their entire foot. Most other mammals use only the toes or balls of their feet (picture a dog’s foot). For this reason, the arch was necessary for comfortable walking . . . which inevitably led to longer and more productive walking.
Of course, we can’t forget the struggling podiatrist’s dream: stinky feet. Because men have larger feet, they also have more sweat glands in those feet. And when those manly boats are in their slips, or shoes, for too long, a bounty of smells, including cabbage, cheese, fish, and sulfur, are summoned. Products of metabolic functions of sweat-loving bacteria, these smells are far from pleasant, but your boyfriend’s bouquet is, in fact, the effect of an ancient and useful tracking device.
Consider this: Would you be able to tell, blindfolded, whether it’s your brother or your boyfriend who’s taken off his Nikes?
That’s because each human’s chemistry harbors a different concoction of odor-causing bacteria. Though foot smell can be identified in general, it does vary from person to person. For this reason, early males were able to track each other by terrestrial scent. If a soggy-footed man was lost, injured, or being held hostage, his tribal cohorts could sniff out his track and rescue him in a grand display of comradeship (which may actually have had more to do with preserving a tribe member for his hunting or fighting ability). The rescued man then lived to spread his genetic material, which included a propensity for sweaty feet.
However, this nifty scent-tracking ability raises a question: Wouldn’t the putrid scent of a man’s tracks also draw in predators sporting big noses and empty stomachs? The famed twentieth-century anthropologist Louis Leakey alluded to the fact that human odor was foul enough to make early man repugnant to predators. This was due in large part to man’s high-protein diet. If Leakey’s theory is correct, and a prehistoric dog was tracking a barefooted man, the dog would know that the creature he was following was a carnivore (because of that putrid, protein-rich stench), a big one, and of an unknown species. Because most animals are xenophobic, or fearful of the unknown, the dog may have backed off in favor of a more familiar smell. As men developed hunting and defense skills they would have fought off many of the predators that tracked them, teaching those predators that the scent of this once-unknown carnivore meant danger. Therefore, the men with the sweatiest of feet were less likely to be pursued by predators that understood how quickly they could be demoted to prey.
Just as hands have fingerprints, feet also have patterns that vary from person to person. Thick skin, the type found only on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands, grows no hair (this characteristic is notable in all primates) but has one extraordinary purpose: grip. The ridges on the bottom of the foot did for early humans what a good set of radials can do for your car. Whether man was in pursuit, being pursued, climbing a tree, or bracing during copulation (good reason for today’s man to remove his socks during sex), grip was essential for his survival and his procreation.
So let’s pay the male foot a bit of respect. It may never enjoy a pedicure. It may never freshen a room. It may be less than alluring in its aesthetics, its feel, and its hygiene, but for goodness’ sake, let’s give credit where credit is due. Without this complicated machine, one that has deemed itself worthy of an independent discipline, podiatric medicine, the entire human masculine machine may have never progressed far enough to walk into the club, the date, or your life.
A long leg up on the competition. Humans are the only bipeds on earth that gain locomotion solely on their “hind” legs, by walking and running. Other primates will walk or run on their hind legs for a short time, and other mammals and birds will hop on their hind legs for their whole lives, but not one could run across the finish line of the New York City Marathon fully erect.
With humans’ upright stances had come not only a need to quickly learn to outsmart predators and prey (humans were now down from the trees and enormously vulnerable), but a need to run like hell. Anyone who’s watched the Summer Olympics knows that there’s no room for stubbiness in the leg department. In fact, most Olympic athletes have legs that range from average to long—usually equating to at least half of their total height.
As early humans spent time outsmarting and outrunning danger, natural selection favored those with longer legs. If you’ve run the high school mile next to McStretch, you can follow natural selection’s virtual thought process. For every two of your running steps, McStretch took one. He could gallop along at a leisurely pace while you had to disengage and dispose of your lower intestine just to make it before Mr. Jim Nasium blew the whistle.
Without a doubt, early humans with longer legs were much better at outrunning danger and overtaking prey. When you consider that men spent much of their time doing just this, you’ve got a plausible explanation for why men’s legs have evolved to be longer and more lean-muscled than women’s.
Well-muscled legs are common characteristics of modern humans. They were also necessities for ancient humans. When we made the move to bodily erection, “hind” legs took on twice the workloads they once had. They now had to support twice the weight and aid in twice the balance. The musculature that evolved takes credit for the straight, forward-moving, and smooth operation of today’s human legs.
Men’s legs are often longer than women’s (in relation to height) because boys mature more slowly than girls, which gives their legs more time to grow. This slow growth left boys of millennia past more vulnerable during puberty, but after the gawkiness lifted they were gifted with some advantageous mechanisms on which to escape danger and to run down prey. Stumpy-limbed men were likely left behind to be mauled, consumed, and rendered irreproducible while their taller, leggier companions brought home the goods.
Generally, the male’s calf muscle will sit higher on his leg and appear more protrusive thanks to his extra muscle mass and his longer legs.
The next time you’re at the gym and Mr. Athletic saunters in, take notice of the length and the musculature of his legs. If at first glance he seems to have flawless bodily proportions, you’ll probably notice, with more scrutiny, that his legs make up at least half of his height. This design contributed to his ancestors’ speed in the wilds of the savannahs, and today it serves to speed him right into your line of discriminating vision.
Once he passes, hold on to your free weights. The rear view will hold its own parcel of evolutionary delights.
The male buttocks brilliantly compose the smartest of asses. In comparison to other species, the human male has a more rounded, rather protrusive buttock region. To put it lightly, he’s got a bulbous ass. Unlike the female’s butt, the male’s is composed primarily of muscle, the amount of which determines whether it belongs to an athlete or an accountant.
So, you might ask, why all the bodily exposure for muscles that do their best work on football bleachers? Ah, you’ve been misled.
Human buttocks are nature’s gifts to modern men and women. People that walked the earth only two million years ago had no such features. In fact, their pelvises were less substantial because they were responsible for holding less buttock muscle in place. It wasn’t until man learned of the benefits of long-distance running that his butt embarked on a journey of globular proportions. Once again natural selection put in its two cents. The men with bigger, protruding gluteus maximus muscles were not only able to outrun the wild and crazy carnivores of the savannahs, they were also able to continue running for much longer than their pursuers. So while these finely buttocked men enjoyed nights at home, creating more bulbous-butted babies, others had “lost their asses” (which they never really had in the first place) in races with Mother Nature.
The better muscled the buttock region was, the longer a human could stand upright, walk upright, and run upright. Daniel E. Lieberman, professor of anthropology at Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, put it best when he said, “Your gluteus maximus stabilizes your trunk as you lean forward in a run. A run is like a controlled fall, and your buttocks help to control it.”
For early man, the development of well-muscled buttocks may have drawn in the cave chicks (as we’ll discuss in detail later), but it also helped him to make great strides in the pursuit of health, food wealth, and dominance. In other words, thanks to the male buttocks, the human race was able to haul ass out of some pretty sticky situations.
That brings us to the body parts that have aided men, throughout history, when those sticky situations were simply unavoidable.
Blue-collar ancestors are responsible for the girth of today’s multicolored collars. When you take in the physique of a professional wrestler, an NHL hockey player, a career construction worker, or even your son’s phys-ed teacher (tsk, tsk), a long, spindly neck probably isn’t part of the mix.
Life on the savannah wasn’t easy for early man. He frequently had to defend his life against predators and other men. Those men whose heads rested on necks that were shorter and thicker were more likely to survive these wild encounters.
The neck houses food, air, blood, and impulse transportations that are necessary for life, so it only makes sense that encasing these functions in muscle would benefit the physical hunter and the aggressive male.
“Pencil neck” not only refers to an atypical male’s lack of girth in the collar department, it also refers to how easily his spine can be shattered. A thin neck is a feminine quality—one that would be of little benefit to the “manly man” while wrestling, human grappling, or animal tackling.
The human male shoulders a great weight, particularly when you consider the rotational abilities of the shoulders themselves. The shoulders are powerful enough to support the human male’s muscular arms, but in an inclusively human sense, the shoulders are both versatile and ingeniously engineered.
It’s clear that shoulders are the human joints that have ended up with the greatest degrees of rotation and flexibility. Our primate ancestors needed terrific shoulder rotation for hanging from branches, swinging from tree to tree, gathering fruit from limbs, and climbing to escape danger. However, in order for bipedal people to run efficiently, they needed shoulders that would properly balance the movement made by their lower halves. Early humans who possessed shoulders with wide ranges of rotation had better survival rates, and hence carried on to make human babies with those same types of multifunctional shoulders.
As humans started to look more like Tarzan and less like Cheetah the chimp, they also began to stand upright, to walk, and to run. In general, humans maintained the rotational abilities of the shoulder, but more specifically, human males’ shoulders grew comparatively larger, because hulky shoulders aided in throwing spears, running, wrestling, and lovemaking, among other important tasks.
Modern shoulders work in sync with the pelvis to make efficient walking and running possible. When you run, notice how the shoulders and pelvis move in opposite directions. This aids in balance and keeps the head stable, so that your sensory functions, such as hearing, sight, and smell, remain virtually unaffected by your body’s locomotion. This would have been helpful throughout our bipedal history: if a human found him- or herself sprinting from a hungry predator, he or she could still smell the pot beast simmering over the open fire, see the smoke rising in a tendril, and hear the bantering of cave gatherers, identifying the way home and to safety.
Without the delicate balancing act that is orchestrated by the pelvis, torso, and shoulders during running, the human head would badly bobble, making precision sight, smell, and hearing shaky at best.
Thanks to the motion of the human shoulder, and specifically the strength of the male shoulder, our ancestors were able to climb down from trees, to hunt, gather, and defend their homes, their food, and their women and children. Men with broad, strong shoulders were better able to defend their possessions and their lives with clubs and spears. They could throw, dig, fight, and hunt with precision and strength.
These lifesaving and life-enhancing traits live on, in today’s man’s strong, broad shoulders.
When examining fossils of ancient humans, it becomes clear that the outward-facing shoulder, with shoulder blades situated on the back, is a gift of evolutionary brilliance. When humans’ ancestors became bipedal, the backs of their new hands were facing forward, in knuckle-dragging rather than index-finger-dragging fashion. As humans’ survival needs grew to include the manufacture and use of tools, the need for a humeral head (top of the upper arm bone) that faced the interior of the body, rather than the back of the body, essentially turned the palms of their hands inward (note the orientation of the palms of your hands when they are resting at your sides, as opposed to the orientation of the soles of your feet).
The reasons that human evolution chose this “humerus” course of action becomes clear with the use of something as simple as a hammer. Try to hold one and use it efficiently with your arm turned inward, and all knuckles facing forward, rather than outward. Don’t hit your nose!
Humerus? Actually, it’s hilarious.
The human male, “armed” with biceps, could advance beyond other primates because he carried two beefy guns, cocked and ready for bringing down and carrying home the beast. The Neanderthals favored a method of killing prey that involved tackling and stabbing. This required massive strength in the arms. Those men with meager influence in the biceps area likely went without both meat and women.
The strong arms that developed in the Neanderthals, in the first real “arms race,” also came in handy when the man invented implements like the javelin. The stronger a hunter’s arm, the farther the javelin could be hurled, and the more accurately it would strike the man’s prey. This hairpin turn in hunting made the strong male’s arm even more important to survival (the farther he could stay from the prey, the more likely he was to retain his life).
The male arm is significantly stronger than the female’s. A man’s arm is composed of, on average, 13 percent bone, 15 percent fat, and 72 percent muscle, whereas a woman’s is 12 percent bone, 29 percent fat, and 59 percent muscle. As you can see, while the bone mass differs little, the female’s muscle mass pales in the shadow of a strong man’s biceps. A man’s extra muscle mass makes it possible for him to throw a javelin a full one-third farther than a woman can (on average).
Let’s give it up for the strong male’s arm—it’s borne an enormous weight in the survival of our species, even if its best accomplishments have lately been conducted on armrests.
The function of the bold and beautiful male hand, and its part in helping humankind to “get a grip,” can only be denied if you can somehow find a way to overlook its strength and its ingenious design.
There’s a reason that your boyfriend can more efficiently crack open the Vlasics. Thanks to the many jobs his male ancestors were responsible for, his hands are twice as strong as yours, or at least they used to be. Now that more of his work is done on a computer rather than a carcass, his hands’ strength may begin to dwindle as the need for it decreases.
The male hand is significantly larger than the female’s. Because of this, his finger span is also quite a bit wider, once aiding in javelin throwing and large-object grasping, and now aiding in things like advanced piano playing, wrestling, and boxing. This attribute makes the man’s hand perfect for the quiet job of strangling beautiful women to death in Lifetime movies.
Despite the fact that his hands are more powerful than yours, they haven’t lost any of their sensitivity, as those men who have lost their sight and use Braille can attest.
The skin on the palm of the hand is thick and hairless. This thick, ridged skin of the palms held a noted advantage for early males. It aided in gripping tools when building, weapons when killing, and rocks when climbing. Today it helps to identify the most aggressive of males by offering its uniqueness (in the form of fingerprints) in police booking rooms.
The palm of the hand also holds a nervous tendency to sweat, as any apprehensive job interviewee can attest. This also had an evolutionary advantage: as a man readied to fight other men or beasts, the palm sweat that resulted from his nervousness joined his thick palm skin to aid in gripping.
The fingernails of the hand acted as tiny little helmets of armor for ancient humans. The pain of a blow to the fingertip is greatly lessened with the presence of the nail. Digging with the hands is made easier by the resistance provided by the nails (without them, the bone in the fingertip would take the brunt of the abuse and the fleshy end of the finger would flex too much). A task as simple as picking berries would have been eased by the presence of fingernails, which offered boosts in precision and support.
When you consider the hell that early male hands must have gone through, it can be reliably surmised that fingernails were significant assets—something that evolution chose to retain for both the man and his berry-picking, meat-picking, child-pinching counterpart. Without these handy little finger helmets, humans may have had to endure much more than the occasional hangnail.
Like hair, fingernails are products of the skin and are made from keratin. Differences in strength are more greatly determined by heredity, environmental stresses, and diet than by gender, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Dated studies have suggested that women’s fingernails bear a higher flex-before-breakage strength than men’s, and more recently, researchers have determined that they can identify the gender of a fingernail’s owner with 90 percent accuracy using the Raman effect (a method in which light is shone through a translucent object to determine its molecular structure), but laypeople will probably never be able to “finger” the perpetrator when clippings are found on the couch.
The next time you visit your favorite juice bar or coffee shop, take special notice of men’s hands while they hold up newspapers, send text messages, and grasp coffee cups. Note the girth of the fingers, the ample knuckles, the broad nails, the sprinkling of hair, the pronounced tendons and vascularity . . . and allow yourself to be transported to a time when hands just like theirs were ready to fight at a moment’s notice; when those hands could take down and throttle the life from a wild animal; and when they could be brought home, bloody and bludgeoned from the field, to deliver a tender touch.
The lifestyle of the modern man differs greatly from that of his cave-dwelling ancestors, but thanks to necessities born long ago, we still get to reap the benefits of the versatile and handsomely appointed male hand.
The male chest is a sexy wrap for a sacred cavity. Like most of the human male’s body, the chest is sizable because past occupations demanded it to be. Encased within a man’s chest are organs that helped him to sustain himself amid the harshness of the savannahs. As early man switched from foraging to hunting as a means of sustenance, he found himself having to sprint to keep up with the fastest of prey and outrun the most vicious of predators; and he also had to demand endurance running of his body, because hunts often turned into the equivalents of today’s full-blown marathons. It was a significant departure from his days of wandering in search of vegetation.
As man’s lungs expanded to accommodate this new, more physically demanding lifestyle, his chest cavity expanded to house them. Those men with broader chests were, understandably, the prime cuts when it came to athleticism, hunting, and fighting.
Maybe you’ve heard the expression “as useless as tits on a boar hog.” Though crude, it applies to the questions surrounding the presence of human male nipples as well.
Why do men have nipples, anyway? The first part of the answer is developmental. When in the womb, all fetuses begin their lives as females. Before the fourteenth week of pregnancy, when testosterone shows up to make those fetuses with a Y chromosome into boys, nipples are already in place. Human nipples are not aftermarket options, but rather, standard features for all models.
This raises the question of resulting function. Can any reason be cited for evolution allowing the nipple to prevail? Deep inquiry might assign the male nipple responsibilities that are similar to that of a pacifier (sucking satiation without lactation)—and in reality, that comparison flirts with accuracy.
The function of the male nipple is erogenous. Just one male nipple holds within its quarter-sized breadth 3,000 to 6,000 touch-sensitive nerve endings and 2,000 to 4,000 erogenous, or sexually stimulating, nerve endings.
I don’t know about boar hogs, but the male nipple is certainly not useless. In fact, in our studies of evolutionary holdovers, it has proven to be quite responsive.
The belly of the beast, also known as the male abdomen, differs from the female belly in that it grows thicker hair (including the yellow brick road of sensuality—the treasure trail); the distance between the navel and the pubic region is shorter; and it is, putting aside any extra junk in the core trunk, generally flatter and harder than a female’s.
A smaller percentage of body fat along with a higher percentage of muscle makes the display of the coveted six-pack abs an ubermasculine trait. Female bodybuilders aspire to, and often achieve, this rutted and rugged look, but it was coined by the men of yester-century, when core strength determined the likelihood of a tackled beast being either dinner or diner.
Next time you’re at the public pool, take notice of the variety of abdomen sizes that are unveiled. Imagine that the pool is a crystal lake where fish dive and crocodiles lurk; that the diving boards are cliffs from which waterfalls, men, and beasts tumble; that the towels spread on the grass are animal hides; that the magazines being read are loincloths being sewn; that the walking taco salads from the snack bar are buzzard legs from the community fire. Now imagine the different jobs that you might assign to each man, depending on the size of his abdomen.
If you’re like many women of today, as well as women of millennia past, you’ll likely call on the flat-abbed, athletic men to wrestle your children from the jaws of the crocodiles, to bring down prey for your next meal, and to fight members of enemy tribes while you wait with anticipation to see who will plummet from the top of the cliff. However, this doesn’t mean that you should discount the ability of the potbellied men to provide; it’s unlikely the women of long ago did, either. The front-heavy men might not get the job done with brute strength or raw courage, but they will do it with resources that they have acquired. A potbelly is seen as a side effect of a hedonistic lifestyle, and if a man has the resources to promote that lifestyle for himself, there’s probably enough to share with a woman and her children. In the faux pool scenario, the hedonistic man might grant younger, stronger men pardon for rescuing children, bribe the enemy with animal hides or food, and fetch dinner from the food stores that classified him as rich.
Today rich men are thin and athletic, while men without adequate resources are overweight because junk food is cheap, blurring the lines that once spoke of a man’s route to success. However, there are still clear messages sent by a man’s midsection, and we will, at least for the duration of our own lifetimes, be influenced by them.
As Arnold Schwarzenegger asserted in the film Kindergarten Cop, “It’s not a tuma’.” And as Arnold Schwarzenegger asserted in The Terminator, “I’ll be bock.” These two scenes provide us with gleaming examples of two different males’ abdomens: the gut and the cut.
As the human male ages, it’s common for his belly to grow. Often a “pregnant male” look might develop, in which the majority of the body is thin while the belly protrudes as if it’s flirting with maternity. This, in fact, is an evolutionary holdover.
The majority of early men were probably fit, stacked, and generally hard-bodied, but there were those members of early tribes who were considered to be wealthy, in that they had enough food stored in their caves, or enough fat stored in their bellies, to survive a famine. Women had their choice: a fit man or a wealthy man. Today’s potbellied specimens are not helpless in their midsections’ growth, but they might be predisposed to this strange profile.
Some men’s bellies are so large that one might wonder about the last time they’ve seen their feet . . . or the family jewels. These men’s bodies, not surprisingly, are comparatively famine-proof, thanks to their fat-wealthy ancestors.
Evolutionary evidence supports modern man’s back. When ancestors of the modern human stood up, on their journey to becoming what we know today as Homo erectus, there were incredible amounts of pressure placed on the back.
From lifting heavy kills to climbing to wrestling, a well-muscled back went the mile in supporting man’s ancestors’ physical lifestyle.
When all male work was blue-collar, the back muscles were worked often, keeping them strong and able to support his upright stature. But in modern times, back muscles have been permitted to dwindle to weak bundles of shrinking tissue, which leave the mechanisms of the back without the support they need to withstand the persecution of daily life. Between the ages of thirty-five and fifty-five, 90 percent of men will have some type of problem with their backs, ranging from annoying aches to “my back’s out . . . I can’t get up” maladies.
We’ve all heard the piece of advice “Lift with your legs, not your back.” This same warning would never have been grunted or whistled within an early human settlement. Legs were for running. Backs were for lifting. It seems that since we, as a species, don’t do much running or lifting anymore, the legs have picked up the back’s slack, while the back has been demoted to stress management.
Don’t we all envy prehistoric woman just a little bit? How romantic it must have been when a man lifted his lady over the threshold of their cave to carry her to an evening of crazy love, without first bracing himself, lifting with his legs, and mumbling to himself, “Now don’t throw out your back.”
A “hippy” male is not the norm. Male hips aren’t given a lot of attention; and rightly so. The more minimal the hip, the more masculine its appearance is considered to be.
The average width of the human male’s pelvis is 14 inches, while the average female’s hips measure 15.3 inches. A man’s torso generally fades into his pelvis without much fanfare in the curve department.
The reason for this dissimilarity is simple: the human male will not be pushing an object the size of a Thanksgiving turkey through his pelvis anytime soon.
If you’ve ever wondered why some men look great in jeans and others look more like your aunt Edna, conduct this visual experiment the next time you’re in the grocery store or at the county fair:
Isolate the rear view of a fine denim example. With your eyes, follow the line that his hips make. You’ll probably find that there’s very little contour and no indentation at the waistline. Now find Aunt Edna’s fraternal twin and I’ll bet that his jeans fit tightly over his rump, that his hips are as wide as his chest, and that his waistline has a cinched appearance.
Often, the Aunt Edna’s Jeans Condition is simply a case of bad dressing. Men’s jeans should be cut to minimize the hips and deemphasize the waist, while leaving plenty of room in the legs. There’s been a lot of talk lately, in the realm of feminine fashion, about the horror of “mom jeans.” This might be a crime against what some call “good taste,” but its seriousness pales in comparison to the silhouette that results from a man’s decision to don these archaic, tight-waisted style specimens.
So don’t discount the hippy male when he’s just out of the gate. It could be his clothing. With a good pair of jeans, he might have all the potential of Mr. Denim Dream.
Male head hair remains nearly as mysterious as the mullet. The preservation of humans’ head hair, and the ultimate loss of much of our body hair, would be the stuff of a Sherlock Holmes novel, had Sherlock Holmes dabbled in evolutionary biology. During earth’s earlier days, the appearance of humans must have been met with some double takes by the rest of creation—similar to the stare that dogs like the Chinese crested receive today.
Today’s human hair is identical to that sported by our ancient ancestors. The fact that human hair’s structure has remained unchanged for a colossal stretch of history tells us that it has served its purpose well. But that raises one all-important question: What was, and is, the purpose of human head hair?
Head hair has become such a part of our daily routines and our views of other humans that we may have never asked, “Why do we have head hair?” The existence of the genetic condition known as congenital hypertrichosis lanuginosa gives credence to the idea that the bodies of our ancient ancestors may have been nearly completely covered in hair. Reasons for our losing the majority of that hair include the thermoregulatory one hypothesized by Dr. Peter Wheeler, who surmises that early people were subjected to extreme heat on the savannahs, causing profuse sweating, and that dense body hair interfered with sweat’s cooling ability. The hypothesis goes on to say that this cooling mechanism, along with the discovery of fire to compensate for hair’s insulating properties, caused bodily hair to be largely lost while head hair was maintained to protect the head, one of the few horizontal surfaces on the human body, from the sun. In other words, the seats of men’s and women’s most indispensable organs, their brains, were protected from adjacent infection. Humans with somewhat hairless bodies could promote the efficient evaporation of sweat while protecting their most functional organs beneath head hair. Ergo, they survived to pass on genes to me and you.
Another speculation on the loss of full body hair comes from Helen E. Fisher, a biological anthropologist at the Center for Human Evolution Studies at Rutgers University. She maintains that humans lost their hairy coats because bare skin was more sensual and more able to convey sexual signals like blushing, engorgement, and nipple erection. Our ancient predecessors who could send sexual signals and be more effectively stimulated by those of the opposite sex produced more children. Of course, hairy predecessors got by well enough to send their genes trekking through the centuries, but those with ready-to-heat sexual communications became more successful, and took over the copulation . . . and the population.
Long head hair also may have served early humans as camouflage. Picture this: Two men are hiding amid a clump of brush. One man’s naked cranium is highly visible, reflecting the noonday sun. It might even be pink or red, thanks to burning from previous noons. Alongside him is a man with a mass of tangled hair that covers his head and neck. It falls over part of his face and camouflages most of his throat. Which man makes the better target? Which man’s physiology is protecting some of his most vulnerable parts, as well as helping his crouched figure to visually melt into his surroundings?
Early humans with copious amounts of head hair likely had higher chances of survival because their heads, necks, faces, and jugulars were largely hidden, transforming all of these essential elements into indefinite targets.
Another reason that head hair may have taken root through the ages aligns with another Charles Darwin theory, that of sexual selection. Put simply, sexual selection is based on choice—the choice by one animal of another animal based on characteristics deemed attractive for producing healthy offspring. For instance, if an ancient woman were faced with a mating choice between two men, one with thick, long head hair, and another with sparse, patchy head hair, she would likely choose the former. Today it’s known that malnutrition and disease can lead to excessive hair loss. This was also likely known millions of years ago, when early humans witnessed others of their species fall victim to hair loss (among other symptoms) and then death. Therefore, thin, sparse, or nonexistent head hair was not a quality that women looked for in otherwise virile men. Even if those unhairy men had inherited terminal growth hair on their heads (like chest hair), or their hair was healthy but sparse, they were unlikely to be chosen as prime candidates for procreation.
It could be assumed that a man with long hair had been healthy for a long period of time (at least long enough to grow the wild bush on his head), and he would therefore score more often, propagating his bushy-hair genes across the savannah.
Caution should be taken in comparing the evolution of the head hair (as related to the elimination of terminal growth and patchy hair, or to nonexistent hair, on the head) to male-pattern baldness. The receding hairline has not been bred out of the human species because it was not only seen as a sign of wisdom (as a result of age) and a propensity for settling down, but also as a clear indicator of raw manliness.
The survival of male-pattern baldness today could also be a product of sexual selection. Long ago, women recognized a balding man as more mature, less aggressive, and less likely to take risks that could profoundly affect a family. As a result, men who displayed baldness were likely older and more ready to stick around once their seeds were sown—at least that’s what those women believed. We all know young men who are prematurely bald. And likewise, we know some ripe old men who have kicked the bucket with full, beautiful heads of hair intact. In either case, the perception of age is almost always affected by the man’s balding, or lack thereof. Many guys curse this affliction without realizing that women have likely chosen this characteristic for them, because they once considered it a good quality to have in a mate.
The ancient balding man’s sexual dominance didn’t stop there. Testosterone, the hormone responsible for everything male, is at the “root” of male-pattern baldness. Once a human male comes into sexual maturity at puberty, his genetics will determine the amounts of testosterone that flood his body, and where those doses are directed. For a young man who is destined to sport the chrome dome, testosterone will rush to his follicles to deactivate, and essentially destroy, the papillae responsible for hair production. By the age of thirty, it will take either a Hair Club for Men scout or a common passerby to diagnose his looming baldness, but no matter how obvious, his shedding will have begun. By the age of fifty, he will join more than half of all men who can expertly reflect both the sun and the fluorescent lights in Costco. By the age of sixty, he will no longer be stuck in a recession; he will find himself slumped into a hair depression.
But really, there’s no need for the baldest of our men to fret. The same hormone that’s responsible for deep voices, large testicles, and virile insemination practices is responsible for the condition that many men call a malady. There’s no shortage of women who consider bald men to be sexy. That’s because a man who owns his baldness, or even takes matters (and razors) into his own hands, establishes an air of dominance by owning that cue ball.
Finally, heads of hair, aside from the propensity to male-pattern baldness, are not genderlicious. The human male and human female heads of hair are identical in their constructions. Differences in appearances don’t arise until anthropological, social, and religious aspects “head” in.
Foreheads are man’s “temples,” designed for the new, highbrow intellectual. As man learned to rely more heavily on his brainpower, his frontal lobe grew to accommodate his new brainy qualities. As a result of his expanding gray matter (which would ultimately more than triple), man’s forehead expanded up and out. One look at the skull of a Neanderthal man will reveal prominent bony ridges above the eyes, without the forehead that we’re familiar with today; his skull sloped back, rather than up from his eyes. The bony ridges above the eyes didn’t disappear through the evolution of the brain, but were swallowed by man’s new feature: the forehead.
Now that the savannahs were teeming with brainiacs, life should have been simpler for humans. But there was a noted complication that arose from the newly restructured face. Rain, sweat, and other falling debris could now make downward paths straight into the eyes.
One theory as to why the entire upper portion of the human face lost hair, but the eyebrows remained, is that the eyebrows served our ancestors by channeling the sweat and water that now streamed down the face from the forehead out and away from the eyes (note the direction of the hairs in the eyebrows).
Another theory for the retention of hair above the eyes relates to signaling. The eyebrows are keepers of emotion, easily conveying sadness, grief, puzzlement, greetings, sarcasm, eroticism, and much more with their contrasting properties. Most eyebrows stand out dramatically from facial skin tones (even chimps’ eyebrows are light on dark faces), making them good emotional indicators, even at a distance. If an ancient human possessed eyebrows that contrasted significantly with his or her facial color, that human could have easily signaled a “mean no harm” message from far off, preventing an injurious or deadly enemy attack.
This communicatory theory might also help to explain why a man’s eyebrows are bushier than his female counterpart’s. In the wilds of the savannahs, ancient man’s needs to communicate at a distance were likely greater than a woman’s. Creating peace among tribes, or creating havoc, was usually left to the brawnier of the sexes. This evolutionary holdover can also loosely be used to explain nature’s propensity for creating unibrows on men more often than on women.
There are noted gender differences in the human brow. The human male’s brow is heavier, creating more of a shelf over the eyes. The eyebrows are less arched, generating a plane that is often nearly horizontal. These differences likely served two purposes. First, the human male’s brow has a more aggressive appearance. The more testosterone coursing through a male’s system at puberty, the more likely he is to display a heavier brow (but only within his genome—someone could have injected Pee-wee Herman with buckets of testosterone at puberty and he would still look, for the most part, like Pee-wee Herman). Therefore, heavy-browed men generally (and rightly) gained a reputation for being domineering, aggressive, and fertile. These men likely won many battles, as well as sired many children.
Second, a heavy forehead with big, bushy eyebrows gave early man some distinct advantages in the field. He had a screen from the sun, diversion for rain and sweat that ran down his brow, and better protection for his eyes in the case of a blow. For these reasons, a heavy-browed man was more likely to make it home at the end of the day with meat, to a mate ready to create plenty of heavy-browed, hardy sons.
The waxing chair will never host as many males as it does females. Though some men feel compelled to tame their eyebrows into neatly trimmed facial decorations, most will continue to view them as they were meant to be: masculine implements that served a purpose in the ultimate survival of our species.
The outer ridges of the ear are as unique as fingerprints, but with no significant difference in construction between males and females. Though the outer ear is considered to be vestigial, because it cannot move to home in on sounds like other animals’ ears can, it does hold value in helping humans to hear. The human ear can zero in on a sound’s location to the accuracy of three degrees, thanks to its design and to the neck’s impressive rotational ability.
Earlobes serve no protection or hearing purpose. They seem to have been maintained by the human body for two purposes: erogenous satisfaction and beautification. When humans are engaged in foreplay, the earlobes become engorged, responding nicely to kissing and other such activity. When humans are engaged in the spending of copious amounts of money, these same bulbs of fleshy tissue make perfect seats for diamonds, and emeralds, and rubies, oh my!
The male eye: “All the better to see you with, my pretty.” Human beings gather 80 percent of all information with their eyes—that’s 400 percent more than is gathered with all of our other senses combined. The function of the eye itself is so complicated that even Charles Darwin, evolution’s guru, tripped and blundered over how such a complex machine could have been a product of natural selection.
The eyeball of the human male differs little anatomically from that of the human female (it may be a bit larger); however, the presentation of the eyeball on the masculine face shows some notable differences.
A man’s eyes usually seem to be smaller, more sunken, narrower, closer together, and deeper set than a female’s eyes. These differences are not due to the construction of the eyeballs themselves, but rather to the masculine, testosterone-crafted features that surround them. A man’s eyes will most always appear to be smaller than a woman’s. This isn’t because the eye itself is smaller, but because his lids are lower, creating a more squinted or drawn-blinds look.
The human eye is distinct from other mammalian eyes in that it shows more of the white. This characteristic likely survived because of its invaluable signaling ability. To illustrate, a chimpanzee’s eyes are fully brown. From any significant distance, it can be difficult to determine if the chimp is looking at you, your child, or the man in the Bermudas and straw hat to your right. Without the zoo fence separating you from the chimp, you could fear attack at any moment, because his gaze, and his intentions, are significantly veiled. Conversely, when you encounter a man, you can pinpoint the object of his intentions by determining the direction of his gaze or the nervous movements of his eyes.
Back in the day, when words still eluded humans, a look that was ill perceived could have meant the difference between life and death. Without visible whites, any man, at any time, could have been met with the grunting or pummeling equivalent of “Whatchoo lookin’ at?” when in fact he wasn’t looking at anything but a rock, a tree, or another man’s cavewoman . . .
Okay, maybe sometimes he deserved what he got.
The human male bats an eyelash for, not at, evolution. How many times have you envied the length and fullness of a man’s eyelashes? They’re not supposed to have features of beautification, right? Well, all that would be a great argument if eyelashes were meant to beautify.
Eyelashes are actually the curb feelers, the whiskers, and the awnings of the eye. The eye deserves such protection, since it is a direct connection to the brain and the most exposed portion of the central nervous system. Such a dynamic, sensitive, and exposed device as the eye might be more widely insured if famous artists, golfers, and interior decorators weren’t gifted by nature with the small but powerful implements known as eyelashes.
Humans didn’t wake up one morning on piles of molted hair, shivering under the weight of Jack Frost. It happened gradually, over generations. Furthermore, humans didn’t really lose that hair at all. Instead the hairs evolved to be smaller, giving men and women the illusion of being hairless. While in the midst of this transformation, humans who maintained eyelashes had the use of eyes that were shielded from sunlight and were better able to focus on important tasks like defense and hunting. Those humans who had tiny hair triggers on their eyes that would snap the blinds shut, quickly enough to put any Venus flytrap to shame, effectively saved their eyes from dust, sand, dirt, and insect irritation and trauma.
At the point where the standard human skin of the eyelids joins the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that lies on the underside of the eyelid), eyelashes sprout. But what is an eyelash, really?
Under a microscope, the human eyelash looks much like a human hair, until you make your way to the image of the very tip. There you’ll find evidence that the eyelash is actually a sensitive feeler encased in material that’s similar to the covering of other hairs.
Give your arm hair a quick brush with your fingers. Now do the same to your eyelashes. Eyelashes carry a definitive sensation, which promotes the quick closing of the eyelid when anything brushes against the lashes.
Nosing around in a big way: one of man’s biggest and best endowments. The human nose is unique compared to other creatures’ snouts. It’s not a muzzle; it’s not a beak (although in some cases it has been referred to as such). Generally, the human male’s nose is more prominent than a female’s, and there are a number of theories that strive to explain this difference.
Our primate cousins’ noses are flat with upturned nostrils, so why is the human nose so prominent, with nostrils that face the ground? It can be helpful to picture our ancestors as having a variety of nose shapes—like those you might find in a rhinoplasty catalog, plus some more, upturned, less contemporary noses. When hand-to-hand combat became part of tribal life, injuries were common. The bony bridge of the nose, in conjunction with the heavy brow and cheekbones of the typical male, protected the eyes against blows from blunt objects. You know today that if you were to smack your boyfriend in the face with a two-by-four (this is allegory, not relationship advice), his eyeballs would be minimally affected. This is in part thanks to the bony protection provided by the prominent male nose. Those human ancestors with flat, minimally protrusive noses would have been more susceptible to soft tissue injury (and a blind man on the savannah would have had the same chances of survival as a blind man walking on the D.C. beltway).
Another factor that contributed to the shape of the modern human nose was our ancestors’ descent from the treetops. On the ground they had to swim; and if you’ve ever snorted a schnoz-ful of water, you know how difficult an upturned nose would have made a simple dip or a lifesaving dive. Additionally, the closer to the ground a human found him- or herself, the more dust, sand, and other wind-driven materials they would be exposed to. Downturned nostrils were likely aids in keeping such debris out of the nasal passages and sinuses, as were mucus and nostril hair.
Humans’ first words were far from soliloquy, they in no way mimicked the Gettysburg Address, and they were far from profound. In fact, they weren’t words at all; they were grunts and whistles. As vocal cords developed to give humans a wider range of vocal capabilities, there was a greater need for resonance within the sinuses. A larger nose gave them this ability. Speaking with less of a nose would result in everyhuman sounding more like anyhuman-with-a-nose-pinched-shut.
Though the human nose is larger than those of other primates, it claims a sense of smell that is significantly deficient. This might seem counterintuitive at first, but it can be helpful to focus on your nose’s other important function: air temperature and humidity regulation. Sure, noses smell (a sense that was lessened as sight evolved to be a human’s primary sense), but they also serve to police the air that enters and exits the nostrils, sinuses, and lungs. The ideal temperature for air that’s inhaled is 95 degrees, and the ideal humidity is 95 percent. The nose ensures that these ideal factors are reached. This explains why peoples of arid climates (Middle Eastern peoples, for example) have large-bridged, more prominent noses—the greater surface area of the mucous membrane is needed to add the proper humidity to the inhaled air. Flatter noses, such as those of Eskimos and Mongolian peoples, didn’t need such adaptations; moreover, longer noses would have been more susceptible to frostbite.
Though today’s human’s nose doesn’t detect smell as well as our ancestors’ noses did (just ask the sneering sommelier), we cannot discount the ability that it has retained. Long ago, human noses transmitted information to brains about the safety of potential food items. Our scent receptors’ qualities are species-specific, thanks to evolution’s weeding out of those humans whose receptors weren’t matched to their dietary needs and weren’t capable of sending alarm messages to the brain. If humans weren’t repulsed by something that could harm them, they might eat it and die, effectively cutting off their reproductive abilities and leaving those with better sensitivity to dangerous smells to procreate.
An example: Rotting flesh smells putrid to a human, but is beak-watering to a turkey vulture. Human feces repulse humans, but rabbits eat certain types of their own pellets for nutritional reasons.
If a rabbit and his nose didn’t find his own turd appetizing, he might become nutritionally deficient. If a human found his own feces enticing, he could end up seriously ill or dead. Herein lies the importance, and the fascination, of evolutionary scent tweaking.
Why are men’s noses larger and hairier than women’s? When you consider all of the evolutionary factors covered above, this can be reliably explained. First, a man would have needed more facial protection, because he belonged to the gender that most often found itself embroiled in brawny battles with trappings like clubs and fists (if women fought, they likely used fingernails and teeth). Men needed more nose hair to filter the dust and dirt that they encountered on the open plains while hunting and exploring. Men’s nostrils had to be larger—to supply the higher hemoglobin counts noted at the beginning of this chapter, and to ultimately feed their larger organs and muscle masses with a plenitude of oxygen (particularly while men were running from bloodthirsty predators). Women spent lots of time in cool caves and by warm fires in times of extreme temperatures, but not the men. They relied on their inborn cooling and heating devices, their noses, to regulate the air that was permitted to enter their bodies. Men’s noses also needed to be larger to cool them after taxing, lifesaving sprints.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the human male nose’s ability to perceive pheromonal messages from the opposite sex, without the male’s conscious awareness. In this sense, man’s nose has maintained its reputation as one of the sexiest (and most phallic) of organs.
Rhinoplasty used to be the stuff women’s noses were made of, but men are joining the ranks. Because large noses are not viewed as the prominent, proud phallic symbols that they once were, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that men now account for 24 percent of all nose job patients. I suppose the mantra “Big feet, big Pete” took over for the old fifteenth-century one, “Big nose, big hose.”
This doesn’t mean that “outstanding” noses will remove themselves from our evolutionary future. It simply means that mothers might be taken aback by the topographical profiles of their children.
The “cheeky” male is robust, bold, and brimming with testosterone. Probably the most notable difference between the male cheeks and the female cheeks (not those cheeks . . . move northward, ladies) is the absence of fat deposits in the male face, as well as the higher and more forward positioning of the male’s cheekbones.
Modern man’s very early ancestor Paranthropus robustus sported a pair of humongous cheeks. These things gave new meaning to a “heart-shaped face” in that they generally protruded in both the profile and the margins of the mug. As discussed in the brow and nose sections earlier, they probably served to protect the eyes from blows, but their real functions stepped in at dinnertime.
Robustus’s diet consisted of a lot of fibrous, tough vegetation (as evidenced by this species’ flat, herbivore-like teeth, with canine teeth conspicuously absent). Their massive cheekbones were necessary for supporting the large jaws and big ol’ teeth that they needed to chew what we, today, would consider a diet fit for a giraffe. Since then, humans took to eating raw meat, then cooked meat, then chicken wings, and then nachos. As you can surmise, a large chewing machine, like that sported by robustus, was no longer necessary.
A man’s facial cheeks have a more chiseled appearance than a woman’s. They’re also set higher on the face, with higher arches on the lower sides of the bones (more “rainbow” shaped). These anatomical differences are the results of genetics, of course, but more interestingly, they also come from an influx of testosterone at puberty. Male cheekbones send messages of aggression and strength, unlike soft, rounded, feminine cheekbones, which are more childlike.
Throughout history, man’s cheekbones have served three main purposes: they have adjusted to accommodate the latest in diet trends, they have made implications of aggression toward would-be attackers, and they have sent testosterone-laden messages to those females who were most interested in fertility. With all those things going for them, it’s no wonder that man’s cheekiness has persevered.
You’ll get more than lip service from the human male’s lips, but that doesn’t mean they get the appreciation they deserve. A man’s lips get little attention. That could be because most of those lips’ best work is accomplished at the breast—his mother’s, that is.
Humans’ lips are far more everted, or rolled outward, than those of other primates. Evolutionarily speaking, that’s because they need to be. Human breasts are more convex (round and bulbous) than those of other mammals, and our nipples are notably shorter and more difficult to grasp than the average mammalian teat. Grasping and suckling become simpler when the feeding mechanism matches the food source.
Long ago, those babies whose mouths’ mucous membranes were more significantly everted could better suckle from their mothers. Therefore, those babies grew faster, stronger, and healthier, and in turn had better chances of living to propagate their stout-lip genes.
A contributing factor to the endurance of humans’ everted lips is the evolutionary growth of the human female’s breast. As men chose women with larger breasts in a display of sexual selection, those round-breast genes were passed on more widely than flat-breast genes, making the survival of those babies with better-grasping lips more likely.
Because human lips are essentially the mucous membranes of the mouth turned outward, they are cunningly sensitive to touch. This aided in nursing (finding the breast) as well as in lovemaking (again, finding the breast).
A man’s lips are generally thinner than a woman’s for one notable reason: lack of estrogen. We’ll discuss this point in more detail in chapter 3, but for now you can operate on the evidence that a man sporting lips as bulbous as Angelina Jolie’s would likely get less sack action than one whose lips more closely resemble those of Brad Pitt.
There’s a reason men don’t wear lipstick, or even sheer lip gloss: women don’t dig it. Men covet the red, shiny nature of lip dressing on women because it helps plump, feminine lips to mimic the appearance of aroused labia. Since women aren’t (usually) into this likeness, the idea of bulbous, pink, shiny lips on a masculine face is a turnoff—right up there with food in the teeth.
The human male gets mouthy; well, sort of. Human mouths are actually much smaller than they used to be, due in large part to an evolving diet. Anthropologists can make deductions as to a mammal’s eating habits by studying fossils—namely their body, teeth, muscle, and mouth shapes and sizes.
Along the timeline of human development, there is a significant increase in body size that corresponds with a noteworthy reduction in the sizes of the teeth. This seems to be counterintuitive, because more growth should call for more food, which should call for more chewing and more capable teeth; that is, until you consider that both of these changes came about around the time fire was discovered, and meat had begun to be cooked.
As humans moved from the fibrous vegetation that had once sustained them to cooked protein, their mouths shrank and the rest of them ballooned.
The human male’s teeth are larger than the female’s. He has a larger jaw, so it makes sense that his teeth would follow. It also makes sense that he would have evolved to carry a bigger set of choppers because his caloric requirements are higher than those of the average female.
The next time you eat a steak dinner with a date, take note of the size of the bites he cuts and the speed with which he chews each one. You’ll probably discover that he can devour a slice of meat more efficiently than you can, thanks to his larger teeth, larger mouth, and more powerful jaw . . . and be finished before you’re past the T in your T-bone. Caveat: I’m not suggesting that you instigate an eating contest, nor am I predicting the same results when dessert is served.
He is human male, hear him roar. There’s no arguing that the average human male’s voice is deeper than a female’s. The “Pledge Drive” episode of Seinfeld does a good job of demonstrating just how perplexing a male with a high voice can be to the human ear, with the introduction of Dan, a male “high talker.”
By now, you’re probably down with the fact that testosterone is responsible for many male features. The depth of a man’s voice is no different. The male’s larynx is approximately 30 percent larger than the average female’s, as evidenced by the very manly Adam’s apple. Ask any transvestite or cross-dresser about the “hardest” part of his anatomy to hide, and he’ll likely testify that his larynx will give away his true identity quicker than anything duct tape can harness.
When a boy’s system is flooded with the almighty T, the pitch of his voice drops significantly. This would have come in handy in the bush, when men who weren’t yet skilled in hunting had to scavenge meat from other predators. A mighty “roar” would have benefited man in scaring the real killers from their prey. The “high talker” hunter may have been left with nothing to eat, or may have ended his day, and his life, as the main course.
Watch a televised political debate between two male candidates and take note of the pitch of each contender. Try to tune out their actual words. Which one would you assign the most credibility to? Which one would you want leading and protecting your town, state, or country? A deep voice isn’t just sexy and indicative of a generous testosterone level, it represents authority and protective tendencies.
The bearded male speaks for his ancestral “roots.” There has been plenty of passing conversation about why the human male grows a beard, while the female face remains smooth (and plenty of tête-à-tête about certain females whose natures have “gifted” them with the carpeted look).
There are a few theories that have been raised as to the purpose of a human male’s unique facial hair.
One theory rides the same wave as a head hair retention theory: that the human male’s beard’s main purpose was for protection. While early man traversed the battlefields of the savannahs, a beard not only kept his face and neck warm (by shielding him from wind) and cool (by trapping cooling sweat), it also hid some of his most vulnerable attack points, such as the jugular.
It also showed a level of masculinity, strength, and aggression to enemies. Even without a beard, the male’s jaw is heavier than the female’s. The beard might have served to exaggerate this feature, staving off punks who might have otherwise contemplated stirring the pot.
Another hypothesis sees the beard as merely ornamental, in a sexual sense. It marked males as males, even at a distance. It carried scents emitted by the sebaceous glands of the face, which were, and still are, more active in males with high levels of testosterone. It also spoke to a man’s maturity. A kid with a peach-fuzz face might be strong enough to shoulder the weight of a lover, but not a family that needs his support.
Species identification could have also been a significant task undertaken by the male beard. When we see a large cat with a mane, there’s no question what type of animal it is. Like the lion, man must have been easily identifiable by other species because of his dramatic, interminable beard growth.
No matter the evolutionary purpose of the beard, there’s no denying that the presence of facial hair is distinctly male. Women likely chose to copulate with men who showed this feature, for many of the same reasons men chose not to copulate with women who maintained mug rugs of their own.
What’s your male facial decoration preference? Do you go for an area rug (goatee), a toilet rug (mustache), wall-to-wall carpeting (full beard), shag carpet (long beard), or hardwood (clean-shaven)? No rule is rigid, but chances are that if you covet the carpet, you also value a man with lofty testosterone levels and all of the “perks” that come with it.
For a departure from the facial same-old-same-old, in a matter of seconds, take a peek at the video created by Christoph Rehage, who in 2007 set out to hike from Beijing to Germany without shaving. Take note of how your impression of him is affected, particularly when the “rug” is pulled out from under you. You can find the video at www.thelongestway.com/extra/thevideo.
Men’s pubic hair used to be more of a public sight. At least that’s one of the theories for why it exists. Some anthropologists believe that pubic hair’s purpose is to signal sexual maturity. When an ancient woman of the bush (pun intended) saw a man whose bird nest was plentiful, she automatically knew that he was sexually mature enough to treat her right in the bedrock, and that he was chronologically mature enough to provide for her potential family. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that when a boy enters puberty, hair begins to grow on his most hormonally sensitive areas first. And since the influx of testosterone kicks off sexual maturity, the pubic hair acts as a flag for this momentous event. Additionally, among many races, the pubic hair’s color dramatically contrasts with the skin color, assuring that members of the opposite sex couldn’t miss the small, but striking, billboard of ripeness.
Speaking of ripeness, another theory surrounding the retention of human hair in the pubic region involves the preservation of the scents that are excreted from apocrine glands in the pubic area. When humans roamed the savannahs in a bare naked state, scents were easily swept away by the uninhibited wind. A tuft of hair in the most sensual area probably helped to capture and maintain some of that scent, which would subliminally speak to prospective mates (even if those prospective mates were unaware of the true power of a crotch’s bouquet).
Since early humans were unique in that they copulated face-to-face, a third premise teeters on the idea that pubic hair served to protect the delicate genital region from abrasion. Since a large number of today’s people remove pubic hair, this theory holds less weight than the ones mentioned previously. Unless, of course, we’re having a lot less sex than the “people of the bush.”
Playing with the idea of the penis brings evolutionary evidence. The penis has long been veiled under a sheath of taboo, and I’m not talking about the foreskin. Maybe if Adam hadn’t eaten the fruit, his own fruits would be enjoying the same freedom that the rest of his body enjoys today. Nevertheless, just like every other part of the human male’s anatomy, the penis endured its own climb up the evolutionary mountain.
Probably the most striking facet of the human penis is its size. In relative and actual terms, it’s the largest among all primates. For example, the average male gorilla’s body mass is triple that of a human male’s, yet the human male’s penis is grander, more majestic, and downright bigger than the gorilla’s.
Because the penis itself has no function outside of the sexual (John Bobbit could still urinate), this must mean that women of yesteryear possessed noted inclinations toward larger male sex organs, resulting in today’s average erection size of six inches in length and five inches in circumference.
The length of the organ may have some evolutionary reproductive function, in that when ejaculation occurs, the closer to the cervix (at the top of the vagina) seminal fluid can be deposited, the closer to egg fertilization the sperm will be.
Because of its design the penis acts like a suction piston, sweeping the seminal fluid and sperm of other males from the vaginal canal with its coronal ridge (the margin at the base of the glans, near the end of the penis) during thrusting. Because sperm can loiter around a woman’s cervical door and lounge in a seminal pool for up to five days following insemination (waiting for arrival of the egg), this function of the penis can be instrumental in removing another inseminator’s sperm and crowning the most recent inseminator as the winner of a sperm war.
It’s unclear whether women chose men with larger penises because their performances were worthier of standing “O’s,” because larger penises made frontal copulation easier and more pleasurable, or because (unknown to women) men with larger penises were more capable of planting their seeds. But what is clear is that it would be hard to find a penis today that isn’t capable of getting the job done—thanks to the choices of our ancient sisterhood of hard-to-please vixens.
Man’s source of procreation is housed in his precious, vulnerable testicles. This raises the question of why, if man’s testicles have the ability to curl his toes and cross his eyes with pain, they’re situated where, and how, they are. Though women cannot have empathy for this pain, not a single one of us would want to give wrestling with a wild animal a shot while a pair of highly sensitized, flailing testicles dangled between our legs. One might surmise that something as accommodating as evolution might have given man a more secure way of transporting the sperm that hold the key to future generations.
The orientation of man’s testicles has long haunted him. Early on, before clothing was the norm, a running man was surely assaulted by the pelting of his own testicles. In likely response, the loincloth was invented, opening the barn door for sweating, chafing, irritation, and what today’s man affectionately refers to as “bat wings” (adhesion of the scrotal skin to the interior of the thighs).
It seems that internal testicles, like those of many mammals, would be more convenient, more comfortable, and more easily controlled for the human male. But, as with every feature, there’s an evolutionary reason for why traits are the way they are.
We’ve all heard of shrinkage (thanks to George’s keen demonstration on Seinfeld), and this phenomenon actually helps to explain why the testicles are stored on the exterior of the human male’s body. When he’s cold (George: “I was in the pool!”), a muscle at the top of the scrotal sack will draw the testicles up, closer to the body to warm them. If he’s hot, the muscle will relax, allowing them to fall away from the body, to catch a breeze and cool them down. If the testicles were housed inside the body, the sperm might cook inside their own seminal fluids.
The cremaster muscle in a male’s abdomen and the dartos fascia in the scrotum are responsible for raising and lowering the disco balls that get the reproduction party started. But they’re also responsible for protecting man’s most precious jewels in times of conflict. When a man is stressed, these same muscles pull the testes upward. This is considered to be an evolutionary tactic devised to save the male gonads during conflict (in other words, less flailing equals fewer chances of injury).
Another theory that strives to explain the testicles’ outdoor lifestyle is that internal placement would cause undue loss of seminal fluid and sperm. After studying the urine test results of rowing athletes, the late British ethologist Michael Chance learned that seminal fluid was present in their urine. This was reportedly a result of the sphincterless male reproductive system allowing pressure in the lower abdomen (affected while rowing) to expel seminal fluid into the urinary tract. As a result of his findings, Chance came to believe that if human testes were housed internally, the percussiveness of an aggressive lifestyle would make this an everyday problem.
Though in size the male penis towers over those of other primates, the human male’s testicles are smaller. This can be attributed to the human male’s comparatively monogamous lifestyle. Chimps and bonobos have testicles that resemble anything from grapefruits to melons, but these animals are highly promiscuous, using sex for everything from procreation to friend-making to food attainment. They need more sperm to fuel their bedding and bargaining behaviors.
The larger the demand, the larger the factory must be. This helps to explain why men with a penchant for infidelity are more likely to break the marriage chain and take their gigantic balls elsewhere.
Evolution also recognized a problem with the growing musculature of the human male in relation to his testicles. Bigger thighs equaled less room for the family jewels. This explains why one testicle hangs lower than the other. Thanks to this neat design, they only take up the half the room that they would if both testes were placed precisely side by side.
The evolution of the male form is remarkable. Not one part of a handsome specimen looks the way that it does without reason. The men of today may have given up boar brawling and tribal attacks, but their bodies bear the evidence that these lifesaving activities were once a major part of their ancestors’ daily lives.
Every man is evidence of the hardiness that preceded him. He’s living proof that his ancestors had what it took to rise above, to go beyond, and to survive an environment that was out to eliminate the weak. That being said, there are very few men out there who don’t have the ability to pass praiseworthy genes on to your children. Still, you’re left with a hefty challenge: to choose from a plethora of viable options (good, better, and best).
In the next chapter, we’ll discuss why certain male features are considered to be more attractive than others, and how those attractive characteristics can help you to choose from an embarrassment of options. Thankfully, in general, we no longer have to ask ourselves if a man will survive to help raise our children or if he’s healthy enough to pass along hardy characteristics to our offspring. Evolution has taken care of that.
Now that we’ve effectively dismembered and examined the entirety of today’s beefcake’s body, let’s move on to why each male body part, when well constructed, captures the attention of the female eye and heart and other girly parts.
© 2012 Tonya Reiman
Chapter 1 The Chiseling of Man: How Evolution Has Carved the Familiar Form of the Human Male 7
Chapter 2 The Male Form's Magnetism: The Attractiveness of a Fine Male Specimen, Defined 54
Chapter 3 The Fashioning of Woman: How Evolution Has Crafted the Sweet and Curvaceous Female Form 68
Chapter 4 Fascination with the Feminine Form: Uncovering Features That Belong to the Sexiest of Women 88
Chapter 5 The Long Haul or a Short Ride?: The Physical Characteristics That Tell of His Capacity for Commitment 105
Chapter 6 The Sex-Biased Brain: Parallel Parking, Nagging, Emotion … from Womb to Tomb 116
Chapter 7 "Hmmm … You Look Familiar": The Role That Your Mirror Plays in Mate Choice 152
Chapter 8 The Faces of Reproduction: Our Part-time Love Affairs with Dominant Faces 160
Chapter 9 Men with All the Trimmings: The Courtship Adornments of the Human Male 167
Chapter 10 Your Hot-to-Trot Tip-offs: The Body Language That Divulges Your Inner Desires 180
Chapter 11 Is He into You or over You?: Slaying Rejection with Facial Expression and Body Language Fluency 204
Chapter 12 When It's a Fling Thing: Recognizing the Pick-Her-Upper and His Schemes 246
Chapter 13 Real, Manufactured Confidence: Self-Assured Body Language: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy 255
Chapter 14 Talk Is Cheap: and Therefore a Good Investment 271
Chapter 15 Touch 'n' Go: Using Physical Contact to Put Flirting in Forward Motion 287
Chapter 16 Mr. Right-Under-Your-Nose: The Power of Unconscious Scent-the Oldest Matchmaker on Earth 303
Chapter 17 Dress to Impress …: Your Dating Intentions on Men 317
Chapter 18 Keep Him in Suspense …: with the Mysterious You: A Bestselling Thriller 339
Chapter 19 The Bridge to Somewhere: Entrusting Your Love Life to a Solid Structure 349
Chapter 20 A Get-the-Guy Review: Your 10-Step Plan for Putting the Body Language of Dating into Action 358
Photo Credits 365
Posted March 28, 2012
Hats off to Tonya Reiman! She did an exceptional job of researching, organizing and presenting The Body Language of Dating. That she refers back to the dawn of civilization and includes the basic “whys” and “why nots” of early female/male relationships is not only engrossing but adds considerably to the value of her book. And it’s all woven together with threads of humor at just the right places. Most women should find that Ms. Reiman’s book answers nearly every question they could raise regarding men.
On the other side of the coin, men, especially those returning to the singles scene after a long absence, will also find the book fascinating and useful. To use a male-oriented sports analogy (sorry ladies), one has to know the rules in order to play the game. The bottom line for these guys is a major league payoff. In the future when called a “cave man” by some woman they may, after considering her body language, voice inflection and whether her eyes are dilated, decide that they have just been paid a compliment!
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Posted April 27, 2012
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