It’s no secret that women tend to feel cold much more than men, and scientists had attributed this extreme to metabolic and hormonal differences. Now, a new study proposes an alternative explanation stating that men and women are evolutionarily inclined to prefer different temperatures to create space between them, thus slowing down aggression and increasing survivability.
Not just humans
Researchers at Tel Aviv University (Israel) have found that female members of the species are naturally attracted to warmer temperatures due to an “evolutionary difference.” The experts studied 13 species of birds and 18 species of bats using data collected over 40 years to determine whether the animals displayed a geographic separation between the sexes. Israel’s significant climatic diversity also allowed them to study individual animals of the same species that live in very different climatic conditions. That’s how it went. Males preferred lower temperatures than females, which caused a physical distance between them at certain times of the year.
“It is more common among birds and bats, for example, one tends to find that male bats go to the higher altitudes on the top of the mountain, while the females are in the valleys where the temperature is higher.” say the authors.
In humans, previous studies have suggested that men and women experience temperature differently and that women feel more cold due to variations in metabolism and body heat production, as we have discussed.
A widespread phenomenon
“Our study has shown that the phenomenon is not unique to humans; among many species of birds and mammals, females prefer a warmer environment than males and, at certain times, these preferences cause segregation between the two species ”, comments Eran Levin, co-author of the work published in the journal Global Ecology and Biography journal.
Based on the findings, the experts state: “we have hypothesized that what we are dealing with is a difference between the heat detection mechanisms of females and males, which developed throughout evolution .” Species would have a better chance of surviving when males and females stay away from each other.
In the animal world, this separation could be explained by the desire to keep offspring away from aggressive males and reduce competition for food. And it could also be related on a sociological level: females tend to have much more physical contact with each other, while males maintain more distance and avoid contact with each other.
Extrapolating it to humans, gender would therefore be a key factor not only in determining the impact of temperature on comfort, but also on productivity and cognitive performance, as it would affect the workplace, for example.
Referencia: An alternative hypothesis for the evolution of sexual segregation in endotherms
Tali Magory Cohen, Yosef Kiat, Haggai Sharon, Eran Levin,
First published: 14 September 2021 Global Ecology and Biography journal.