Copulatory Patterns

The desire for novelty and a capacity for inventiveness pervades human sexuality, just as it affects other areas of our lives. Such inventiveness existed in bygone ages, as captured, for example, by the erotic stone images of couples which adorn ancient Indian temples. These cultural expressions of human sexual diversity, however, can easily obscure those fundamental aspects of copulatory behaviour which humans share with other primates, as well as with mammals in general. In this chapter, I shall attempt to identify homologues of human copula-tory patterns, and those which occur in non-human primates. The purpose of this exercise is to address three sets of questions. Firstly, what is the evolutionary basis of the various copulatory postures displayed by people in various parts of the world? Face-to-face (ventro-ventral) copulatory positions are found in most of these populations. How did they originate? Secondly, is prolonged copulation an ancient trait of Homo sapiens and why do only some other primate species engage in prolonged copulatory patterns? Thirdly, why are frequencies of mating so variable among the primates, and how do frequencies of copulation in human beings compare with those observed in lemurs, monkeys, and apes?

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