Primates with simpler penises tend to be monogamous like cotton top tamarins a or polygynous like gorillas g. Male gorilla are also much larger than females, but they have a polygynous or harem-style mating system where many females live with a single male. This is supported by anthropological data showing that most modern human populations engage in polygynous marriage. Some of the complex penises found in multi-male to multi-female mating primates such as chimpanzees h , brown lemurs a or macaques d, e, f. This is similar to modern humans, whose testes are also of very modest size and produce a relatively small amount of sperm. First is the need for long-term parental care and teaching, as our children take a long time to mature. At first sight, however, it would seem sensible for males to reproduce with as many females as possible. Three main theories have been put forward. Chimps have huge testicles for their size.
Male gorilla are also much larger than females, but they have a polygynous or harem-style mating system where many females live with a single male. Messenger Humans have a much longer and wider penis than the other great apes. With little or no competition actually inside the uterus, gorillas have had no need for a testicular arms race to facilitate the production of more and more sperm. This monogamy is reinforced by the high social cost and stress of attempting to do this for multiple partners, and it has become supported by cultural norms. Hamadryas baboons have unusually long penises. It is only when males have access to additional resources and power that they can protect multiple females, usually by ensuring other males protect them. A female therefore may contain sperm from multiple partners at any one time, which puts the sperm itself — and not just the animals that produce it — into direct competition. Even the largest of gorillas, more than twice as heavy as a human, will have a penis just two and half inches long when erect. So to ensure that children are able to reach maturity the male is likely to stay to protect them, both socially and physically. For this reason, chimpanzees have evolved huge testicles in order to produce massive amounts of sperm, multiple times a day. This is similar to modern humans, whose testes are also of very modest size and produce a relatively small amount of sperm. Human monogamy has long puzzled anthropologists, and lots of effort has gone in to working out what keeps males hanging around. At first sight, however, it would seem sensible for males to reproduce with as many females as possible. One indicator of which behaviour occurs in a species is the size difference between males and females. The greater this sexual dimorphism , the more likely the mating is either polygynous or multi-male to multi-female. It is worth noting that hunter-gathers around the world practice only monogamy or serial-monogamy which suggests that our ancestors may have used this mating system. Monogamy mystery This observation clashes with the fact that men are significantly larger than women. The relative size of our penis and testes is all down to our mating strategies, and can provide some surprising insights into early human culture. Comparative measurements show the human penis is not exceptionally long. This can be shown by observing chimpanzees and gorillas, our closest living relatives. However, primatologist Alan Dixson in his wonderfully detailed book, Primate Sexuality , suggests that if we look at all primates, including monkeys, this is just wishful thinking. Dixson, Primate Sexuality The human penis is in fact extremely dull — it does not have lumps, ridges, flanges, kinks or any other exciting feature that other primates have. Polygynous marriages are usually a privilege reserved only for high status or wealthy men. Great ape sexual organs, compared for size bonobos are flat chested until they get pregnant. However our testicles are rather small.
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