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Description: After half a century of debate and few empirical tests, there remains no consensus concerning why ovulation in human females is considered concealed. The predominant male investment hypothesis states that females were better able to obtain material investment from male partners across those females’ ovulatory cycles by concealing ovulation. We build on recent work on female competition to propose and investigate an alternative—the female rivalry hypothesis—that concealed ovulation benefited females by allowing them to avoid aggression from other females. Using an agent-based model of mating behaviour and paternal investment in a human ancestral environment, we did not find strong support for the male investment hypothesis, but found support for the female rivalry hypothesis. Our results suggest that concealed ovulation may have benefitted females in navigating their intrasexual social relationships. More generally, this work implies that explicitly considering female–female interactions may inspire additional insights into female behaviour and physiology.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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