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Ice in veins

Posted by Markitos on August 01, 2001

In Reply to: Ice in veins posted by R. Berg on July 15, 2001

: : : : : Someone just suggested something interesting to me. They said there is an evolutionary biological explanation to the phrase "there's ice in her veins". They reasoned that if a long blood line of people have mated, prooducing offspring, just because of sheer physical attraction, they would in the end produce extremely goodlooking people who might not have any other positive qualities.What do you think of that?! Think of hundreds of generations.

: : : : : mortimer

: : : : I agree with that person's theoretical take on inheritance, but I don't believe most people in history have selected their mates by looks alone. Anyway, what's the connection to ice in one's veins? (Emotional) coldness seems like a mostly nurture, not nature, thing.

: : : And an afterthought: If coldness is hereditary, it would tend to be selected out in evolution because uncaring people make undesirable partners, so they'd have a low reproductive rate, and they don't take care of their offspring, so the kids would have a low survival rate. Your friend's argument could be valid for species with other mate-selection criteria and instantly self-sufficient young. For instance, evolution could produce a line of beautiful but indifferent fish.

: : On your first question, ice just means extreme coldness. On your other points, maybe a minimal nurturing instinct would be there even in very cold women. Other women in the village or town might fill-in sometimes, too. We all know specificn men are not necessarily always in the picture, so as long as the woman and child could get food and shelter some way, they could survive. Then the child could grow up, mate, and the whole thing starts agsain.

: : mortimer

: Agreed--but in a subsistence society a child with a providing father (or uncle, etc.) has a better chance for adequate nutrition, protection from predators, and hence growing up. Any inherited characteristic that confers even a tiny advantage in reproductive fitness (likelihood of leaving descendants) will become much more frequent in a population, given enough generations. The opposite is also true: the reproductively disadvantaged will diminish in successive generations, so that if cold people produce even 1% fewer adult children than average, after a while there'll be hardly any of them. Of course, if striking looks go with coldness, increasing chances of mating, the two traits could cancel out. But do those traits go together in reality?

For what it's worth: recent thinking in evolutionary biology indicates that "beauty" isn't just an abstract category, but is a marker for general health and fitness--qualities such a symmetrical features, youthful vigor, immune function, etc., are not just arbitrarily attractive but have correlates with sexual selection in many species. Natural selection has given rise to "ice in the veins"--the North American red-spotted frog hibernates in a completely frozen state before metamorphosing into my wife! Aaargh!