Most of us assume that an equal number of men and women amongst our ancestors. Not so, says John Tierney, writing in the New York Times. He quotes Roy F. Baumeister, who delivered a speech on the subject on Friday at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco. Fear not: Baumeister and Tierney are not suggesting that we re-write the laws of biology.
The article claims that fewer men than women had descendants. This is because men typically have been more adventurous than women. Men go off and fight in wars. Men have built ships and gone off to explore new lands while women rarely did so. A high percentage of these men never had descendants.
In contrast, women generally stayed at home because of social norms and other reasons. As a result, a higher number of women than men raised families. In addition, women throughout history usually died at earlier ages, often in childbirth and sometimes from disease. The widowers often remarried and had additional children. Therefore, a smaller number of men had children by more than one wife.
If you can find every single ancestor in your family tree for the past few centuries, chances are you will frequently see one man appearing multiple times in different limbs of the family tree. You may find him with different wives in your family tree as women will appear less often in duplicate places. When you count up the total number of people you have found in your family tree, chances are that you will find more female ancestors than male.
Interesting thought. You can read more in the New York Times article at http://tinyurl.com/2moo2c.
NOTE: The New York Times has a habit of leaving stories online for only a few days, then removing them. The story is available online as these words are being written, but may not be there for long.