Does evolution reward dads for being deadbeats? According to this article in today's Washington Post, not really. The author, Rick Weiss, found that, although there is still a commonly held belief that dads who don't spend their time parenting have a better chance of their genes being passed on, the evidence doesn't support that conclusion.
. . . But the more that scientists look--from insects to fish to small mammals and even humans--the more they find examples of exemplary fatherhood. There is nothing, it turns out, inherently natural about being an MIA dad.It turns out that other species may provide clues to human dads' biological changes during pregnancy and parenting:
. . . Female giant water bugs, for example, cement their eggs onto the dad's back immediately after they mate. For weeks he cares for his brood of bugs-to-be, stroking the eggs with his hind legs and making frequent trips to the surface to oxygenate them until they hatch.
Male sea horses go further, gestating their young inside swollen bellies and enduring a day or two of labor before giving birth to a mini-herd of a dozen or so sea ponies.
Perhaps this is why Enya makes me cry and why MetroDad became, in his words "a semi-intelligible insomniac wuss with a penchant for Doritos and late-night scotch."
. . . Many male birds, in fact, are Stepford husbands, in part because their bird brains are drenched in female hormones. Compared with females, male spotted sandpipers have much higher blood levels of prolactin, a hormone linked to maternal behavior (and crucial to milk production in mammals). Drunk with tender feelings, the sandpiper sire sits on the pair's eggs for the entire three-week incubation period and cares for the hatchlings for weeks afterward
As for humans, it seems that the evolution of parenting is ongoing:
"Moms are still doing the lion's share, but the changes are undeniable," said Michael Lamb, a professor of psychology at the University of Cambridge. ". . . Thirty years ago, the dad who changed a diaper was seen as a fairly far-out character. Today, the dad who doesn't is seen as a dinosaur."You can also read the online chat that Weiss held today.