Sons of Promiscuous Mothers May Breed Sexier Sons

Although these sexy sons may have a better love life, they may also die a lot sooner.

According to a study that appeared Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, promiscuous mother mice had greater mating success, with a higher output of the chemical: pheromones in their male offspring. Although, the male offspring had higher than average success in mating, they also had a much shorter lifespan than average. The findings from the study, performed by investigators from the University of Utah, support the “sexy son” hypothesis first proposed in 1930 by evolutionary biologist Sir Ronald Fisher.

A statement, prepared by lead investigator Wayne Potts said, “If your sons are particularly sexy, and mate more than they would otherwise, it’s helping get your genes more efficiently into the next generation. Only recently have we started to understand that environmental conditions experienced by parents can influence the characteristics of their offspring. This study is one of the first to show this kind of ‘epigenetic’ process working in a way that increases the mating success of sons.”

Significantly more pheromones were produced by the “sexy sons” of the barn mice — nearly a third more — than the barn mice that led caged monogamous lives. Nevertheless, only 48 percent of those “sexy sons” survived until the end of the experiments, while 80 percent of the barn mice that led caged monogamous lives survived.

“Production of pheromones is outrageously expensive,” said Potts in the statement. “A single mouse’s investment in pheromone production compares with the investment that 10 male peacocks make in the production of their tails, which also are used to attract females.” According to investigator Adam C. Nelson, “Pheromones are the language of mice. When females mate in a socially competitive environment, they program their sons to have a head start by producing more pheromones.”

Of course comparing the results to the animal model that is the human is much more difficult. With so many more variables and traits to comprise, greater in depth study is required. The mice experiments at least inform biologists how better to release captive animals into the wild, with a greater emphasis on the molecular force known as pheromones.


X Factor Pheromones ( are naturally found in minute amounts in the perspiration of both men and women, these natural pheromones are an evolutionary remnant from a time when humans relied on scent to attract mates.


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