In my last post on testosterone, I showed how the alarmism against having high testosterone is blown out of proportion. The hormone testosterone was extremely important in our evolutionary history, with skull changes that are affected by testosterone changing, indicating that it’s a cause of the rise of civilization. By looking at the skulls and skeletons of our hominin ancestors, we can infer how high the testosterone was due to changes in their skeletons over time. It seems that a decrease in testosterone was partly responsible for the advent of civilization, but too low of a dip is causing problems in the West.
Testosterone on its own is very important for male fertility, and confidence with there being no evidence showing causation in regards to prostate cancer. There are, however, large increases and dips and testosterone throughout evolutionary history. This can be inferred from looking at the skeletal remains of our ancestors.
One such study was completed by Cieri et al (2014). Cieri et al found that there was substantial feminization of Homo sapiens facial anatomy. Most notably there were reductions in average brow projection and the shortening of the upper facial skeleton. If you have knowledge of testosterone and its effects on the body, this is not surprising. Relaxing either testosterone or androgen sensitivity will cause softer, more feminized facial features over time. They argue that changes in craniofacial morphology reflects reduction in circulating levels of testosterone, “or reduced androgen receptor densities”, which, they argue “reflect the evolution of enhanced social tolerance since the Middle Pleistocene.”
The reduction in human craniomorphology coincides with larger populations from the Agricultural Revolution, which meant greater social tolerance and reduced aggression towards the group. Due to this, people were more altruistic to each other. Men that were more altruistic and had more pro-social behaviors, for instance, would be able to trade with other men in the band, which became sort of a fallback when they couldn’t forage any food. Over time, those men who could cooperate better (and had more feminized craniomorphology due to less circulating testosterone/androgen receptors).
Due to the selection of more pro-social behaviors, humans started becoming less aggressive and facial features became more feminized (due to less circulating testosterone/androgen receptors). Testosterone itself is correlated with aggressive behavior (Olweus et al, 1988) so with the selection against testosterone due to people who were more altruistic makes sense in this evolutionary context.
Cieri et al argue a good case—that the beginnings of behavioral modernity was due to selection against aggressive behavior, shifted towards pro-sociality. The fact that this began to occur around the Agricultural Revolution is no coincidence, in my opinion.
However, there seems to be a level of testosterone that a civilization needs to remain standing. Testosterone levels have reduced in the past two decades. Men are becoming more feminized, partly due to the environments we have constructed for ourselves. It’s in part due to the foods we eat/what we eat out of that is causing the drop. For instance, imagine being in an environment that destroys human testosterone levels. For instance, let’s say that a lot of the food we eat is made with/stored in a lot of BPA-containing storage. Over time, this would cause differing gene expression. People who are eating these testosterone-lowering foods will have children and, theoretically, pass on the genetically expressed genes to their children, in an epigenetic transference. Since those genes would then be advantageous in the environments we have constructed for ourselves, they would then get selected for. Once enough people get the gene in the population then it will reach fixation. That gene will then get selected in that population. If that gene is one that lowers testosterone, you will then begin to have a more feminized population (like we are seeing now, with men having lower levels of testosterone now than we did twenty years ago).
As I argued in my previous article on testosterone, what Rushton described in his 1988 paper was the Graeco-Roman elite did not breed due to having less circulating testosterone. As I have covered, low testosterone is correlated with having fewer children. As Rushton hypothesized, the elite did not breed while the lower classes did. We can look at it today and look at the ‘elite’ as upper-middle/upper class and look at the lower class, as, well the lower class. We do see the testosterone/class relationship today, with higher classes having lower levels of testosterone, vice versa for lower classes (Dabbs and Morris, 1990).
When looking at testosterone changes over time, fertility rates need to be looked at. Testosterone is down across the board all over the Western hemisphere, and it just so happens that the West is in a fertility crisis (with Europe having the lowest fertility in the world). Not surprisingly, testosterone is taking a dip in the West which is then having a negative effect on testosterone levels. This is due, partly, to the anti-testosterone environments that we have unknowingly (?) constructed for ourselves. To mediate these problems, we need to construct environments that keep testosterone levels raised as to side-step all of the horrible health problems associated with low testosterone, especially later in life.
So, since testosterone is the dominance/confidence/stress hormone, it’s clear that most men don’t put themselves into situations where the hormone would be heightened by the body. Testosterone levels do change throughout the day and depending on events that occur. If you’re around a lot of rowdy people, your testosterone will raise in response to the action around you. Testosterone rises significantly when in large groups and others around are committing violence and being destructive. This is natural, though. When this occurs, you’ll be at the ready for anything that happens, there will be no surprises. It’s a stress hormone, in that it rises mostly in stressful situations.
For society to form, there needed to be somewhat of a testosterone reduction throughout our evolutionary history. This allowed us to trade with each other and so, altruistic behaviors then were selected for. However, too much of a testosterone reduction within single populations leads to lower fertility, and, eventually, the fall of societies due to lower fertility rates. The key here is that we need to construct environments that encourage higher levels of testosterone. If something is not done, then Western society will fall sooner, rather then later (all things eventually come to an end; nothing lasts forever).