The work of the 19th century orthogenesists, Mivart and Cope, concentrated on what they observed as evolutionary trajectories, contractions and elongations of physical features as they manifested or withdrew from the characteristics of descendants at various stages of ontogeny.  No explanation emerged for how this process was engaged, though the fact it occurred, for many biologists, was not in dispute.

In human beings, I’m hypothesizing (see “Introduction to the Theory or Waves“) that estrogen and testosterone together constitute the foundation for an engine of biological and social evolution.  Testosterone drives maturational acceleration and delay.  Estrogen compels a focus on delay or, absent estrogen, no focus on delay.  The ebb and flow of these two hormones behave in a fashion very like what the 19th century theory of orthogenesis describes.

Several things have just plowed into my mind.

Animals behaving like their young, exhibiting young behavior or placating behavior, defuse or tamp down on potentially damaging high testosterone behavior of a possible opponent.  Demure, behaving childlike attracts a certain kind of male.  The exhibition of childlike behaviors both disengages potential opponents from combat escalation and can attract a member of the opposite sex.

Certain levels of relatively high estrogen in a human teenager might possibly be required to engage the testosterone surges that compel puberty.  The same process might be involved in the synapse-pruning testosterone surges compelling asymmetric cerebral lateralization in early childhood.

My “Theory of Waves” states that higher estrogen levels, when accompanied by higher testosterone levels, compel people to select childlike features in their mates, contributing to a neotenous evolutionary trajectory.

And, consider that estrogen both compels an attention/attraction to the child and a focus and evaluation regarding particular features in a mate.  Higher estrogen results in more attention on the young.  Higher estrogen leads to qualified conclusions on satisfactory mate characteristics.

I’m sensing a connection here, a relationship between this mix of proven and hypothetical dynamics and the way that estrogen impacts evolution.  There is a hidden “whole” that can somehow be expressed.  How do these things all connect?

Is it simply that estrogen controls testosterone?

Estrogen controls testosterone.

Estrogen manages evolution’s direction.  Testosterone provides the power.

Estrogen diffuses tension.  Or, absent estrogen, the fight takes place.

Estrogen sits at the doorways of ontogenetic transformation, triggering puberty.

Estrogen shields progeny, focusing on their needs.

Estrogen decides which male features get passed to the next generation.

Whereas testosterone compels that things get done, estrogen determines what those things are.

Still, there is a piece missing.  It has to do with the difference between what childhood is and what a woman is.  Childhood is more closely connected to a woman than a man even though creative forces in society often seem to revolve around males.  Perhaps this is because a woman’s body is more like a child’s body, and that we are all females until the transformation into males begins in utero.  There is a connection, an insight waiting here.


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