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I removed this sentence: "With traditional polyandry, the most common source of friction is rivalry between the fathers and their children for the attention of their wife or mother. This causes tension for the already heavily burdened wife.[citation needed]" The sentence is biased, poorly written ("already heavily burdened wife") and without any reference, does not belong in the entry. Jessica lp (talk) 21:55, 12 April 2008 (UTC)


Glaring omission here. What about early Mormonism and Mormon fundamentalists? 12:10, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

Have Mormons ever practiced polyandry? From my understanding, polygamy is restricted to men having multiple wives. Jessica lp (talk) 21:50, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Further comment by Anonymous: not it's not, polygamy refers to any way of multiple marriage, regardless of participants' gender. You mean polygyny. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:52, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Indeed--Joseph Smith and Brigham Young's polyandrous relationships would be an appropriate example of polyandry in America. Nathanbrisk (talk) 17:44, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

Joseph Smith had a wife with multiple husbands? You're thinking of polygyny, the practice of having multiple wives. --Gimme danger (talk) 19:07, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I am referring to polyandry. With No Man Knows My History by Fawn Brodie as a source, here is the list of Joseph Smith's wives who were already married: Lucinda Pendleton (Morgan) (Harris) (Smith), Zina Diantha Huntington (Jacobs) (Smith) (Young), Prescendia Lathrop Huntington (Buell) (Smith) (Kimball), Sylvia Porter Sessions (Lyon) (Smith) (Kimball) (Clark), Mary Elizabeth Rollins (Lightner) (Smith) (Young), Patty Bartlett (Sessions) (Smith) (Parry), Sarah Maryetta Kingsley (Howe) (Cleveland) (Smith) (Smith), Ruth Daggett Vose (Sayers) (Smith), and Elvira Annie Cowles (Holmes) (Smith). Nathanbrisk (talk) 15:30, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
Huh. Cool. I'm sorry for assuming. If this is a wider phenomenon in Mormonism, then it probably merits mention in this article. If it's restricted to just a few instances, then I would be worried about undue weight, given that the article should probably focus on cultures where polyandry is, if not common, an entrenched practice. --Gimme danger (talk) 15:58, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
There is no credible evidence (Fawn Brodie's book has been greatly debated) that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young ever entered any polyandrous relationships. In addition, there is no allowance for polyandry in the Mormon doctrine of polygamy. Justchief (talk) 18:41, 21 July 2009 (UTC).
Brodie's book may have been debated, but I don't think there's much controversy any longer in the idea that Smith and Young both entered into plural marriages with women who were already married to other men. It's not just Brodie's book that claims this—even the LDS Church's "FamilySearch" genealogy website will demonstrate it with some specific searches. Several women were sealed to both Smith and Young. Polyandry is no longer permitted by most Latter Day Saint churches, but the evidence is that it did exist in some form in the past, at least in a "spiritual marriage" sense. Good Ol’factory (talk) 00:10, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

It is a fact that Smith and Young were married to some of the same women (eg: Eliza Snow). However They were never married to the same woman at the same time. After the death of Joseph Smith, Jr. Eliza Snow and some of Smith's other wives married Young. But that is polygyny. Polyandry has always been contrary to the doctrines of Mormonism and the Hebrew commandments upon which they are based. (talk) 21:55, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

Justification section[edit]

The section currently reads: In Canada, Saskatchewan provincial judicial authorities have "assisted, created and sanctioned" polyandry and polygamy. Justification is based upon property distribution and the recognition that simultaneous multiple conjugal unions are specifically allowed, due to section 51 of their Family Property Act. However, there is no determination in their law that polyandry specifically is allowed, rather the statute content is non genderized.

This paragraph doesn't seem entirely logical, and appears to be veiled criticism of the act mentioned, similarly to "slippery slope" arguments employed for many topics. I feel it should either be reworded in clearer language, or else deleted from the entry. I'm not Canadian, and am completely unfamiliar with the act, so I don't feel qualified to alter this section myself - perhaps a Canadian editor could reword this section? Violet Fae (talk) 05:32, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Is polyandry really so rare?[edit]

yes, formally recognized polyandry-polyandrous marriage-is very very rare. Use George Peter Murdock's Human Relations Are Files or any other big source of ethnographic information and you'll find it is indeed very rare. Don;t confuse "cheating" with recognized marital patterns, perhaps that will help here. This judgement has nothing to do with western POV or bias. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:28, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Isn't it absurd to assume that polyandry is "extremely rare" and has been throughout history, when there are clearly millions of women in our own society who are NOT monogamous? Even if polyandry is technically illegal, it's surely not that uncommon for women to have long-term non-monogamous arrangements. I mean, a substantial percentage of women cheat, have children sired by men not their husbands, etc. I think the author may be pushing a bit of a POV agenda here. -Platypus

Platypus: "cheating" and "non-Monogamous" relationships are not the same as Polyandry. Polyandry is a societal setup which we (Westerners) simply do not nor have ever had regardless of who "fools" around. Polyandry *IS* rare over Earth's history in comparison to Monogamy and Polygyny, mainly due to economic and social reasons. This argument is carried out and widely accepted in anthropology. It's only an "agenda" if you take "agenda" to mean "commonly accepted anthropology." Sonofabird 19:50, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

"we (Westerners) simply do not nor have ever had" Never? Not true, fraternal polyandry existed in the ancient Celts. - (talk) 08:04, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

January 2010[edit]

I didn't know what section to put my comment under, so I put it here. Under 'Human polyandry' it has a description of a quote from page 40 of a book by Walter Wink. I clicked on the link provided in the references/notes section and Wink's quote says, " The women of former days used to take two husbands (but)the women of today (if they attempt this) are stoned with stones (upon which is inscribed their evil) intent." The person who wrote this section of the wikipedia article wrote, "...he is said to have abolished the former custom of polyandry in his country, on pain of the woman taking multiple husbands being stoned with rocks upon which her crime is written."

I don't think the Wikipedia sentence accurately portrays the original quote. If it does accurately represent it, then maybe the sentence should be rewritten in a simpler sentence for someone of my intelligence. The same quote is also used in the Wikipedia article, 'Urukagina'. It is the last sentence in the second paragraph. So if you change this one, then that should be changed as well. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:49, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

So what, specifically, do you propose it be changed to then? I do not understand how our article is not an accurate synopsis or paraphrase of the original statement. You could also try simple: wikipedia, if you find this wikipedia is not on your reading level. Til Eulenspiegel (talk) 03:13, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

Links / Changes Discussion etc[edit]

Is it okay to add informative, stable links specifically related to polyandry here?

surely. seglea 23:30, 4 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I have reverted away from the recent changes by Stevertigo, which took away the short opening para. Without that para, the two distinct fields in which the word is used do not emerge clearly, and the reader (who will only want one of them) is likely to be confused. I've done the same on polygyny. seglea 23:30, 4 Feb 2004 (UTC)

This article seems to say that in biology the term polyandry implies an ongoing relationship. It certainly doesn't always mean that. For example, honeybees are said to be polyandrous because a queen typically mates with multiple males, even though mating is the only interaction that they have (the males go off and die, and the queen goes off and makes lots of babies, using stored sperm for those eggs that she fertilizes). Josh Cherry 04:02, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Can people please use paragraphs? This is very hard to read.

Added - (talk) 08:04, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Polyandry and Partible Paternity[edit]

This would seem to be related to partible paternity. I have drafted an article but since it has to be partly speculative (and I say so) I've put it up for the time being to save cluttering Wikipedia's server if people don;t like it.

Comments please to Chevin 12:10, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

Polyandry in other mammals[edit]

I'm trying to gather info about polyandry in non human primates, with sources. The stuff about new world monkeys- finding sources to document. Anybody else think it's a good idea to add section on polyandry in other primates/mammals/etc? Sorry if the new edit's a little rough...will try and fix. 08:28, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

I've added a contradict tag.... This article states that marmosets exhibit polyndry, while that article says the exhibit monogamy. - UtherSRG (talk) 04:35, 10 October 2006 (UTC)
The marmoset article currently says, "Marmoset mating systems are highly variable and can include monogamy, polygyny and occassionally polyandry." Typo aside, the contradiction has been fixed. 16:44, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

non human great apes[edit]

I have a problem with the wording of the 'non human' great apes sentence. It seems to imply that non human great apes all practice polygyny and are highly sexually dimorphic, when gibbons are great apes, are usually monogamous, and are not very dimorphic at all. Do bonobo males and females count in the chimp category here? Are they polygynous?

-Gibbons are lesser apes, not great apes, so this doesn't apply to them. Phoenix Flower 04:50, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

-Bonobos mix all sorts of things up and the marriage part of polygamy is probably the thing they do least. They are more matriarchal and probably practice more polyandry than most species expect non-monogamous 01:53, 11 May 2006 (UTC)rusl


I removed this:

It must be kept in mind that a Mut`ah relationship (which the majority Sunni's do not practise and deem unlawful) makes a woman neither a wife nor a slave girl of a person, and that the Qur'an specifically restricts sexual relationships of a person to those with his wife and his slave girls only. It should also be noticed that the particular word used by the Qur'an in the referred verse, which is translated as "wives" is "azwaj," plural of "zaujah". In the Arabic language, a woman with whom a person enters into a contract of Mut`ah is called the "Mamtu`ah" of the person, she is not referred to as the "zaujah" (wife) of the person. The verse, therefore, is evidence to the fact that no other relationship besides the one based on Nikah is allowed by Islam.

It is neither accurate nor relevant. --Striver 02:50, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Table code[edit]

I removed the table code that was used to encase the citation notice. It is necessary for a single notice since there is no tabular data, and despite claims to the contrary, I have been unable to determine any browser that is negatively affected by the removal of this code. --Kmsiever 19:28, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

even the first sentence is bad[edit]

This article is horribly biased and riddled with errors. I think it deserves at least a POV tag. For instance, at the time of this comment, the first sentence reads, "In social anthropology and sociobiology, polyandry (Greek: poly- multi-, andres men) means a female forming a stable sexual union with more than one male." First of all, it ignores the use of the term in ethology. Second, polyandry denotes something very different in cultural anthropology than in sociobiology, and the sociobiological definition is highly controversial within anthropological circles. Third, in anthropology polyandry certainly does not require a "sexual union" ("union" is of course the wrong word, bringing in contemporary Christian connotations). On the contrary, sex is often secondary to marriage, permitting the phenomenon of "woman-marriage." The key fact is often that any child produced by a woman in a marriage is a legitimate child within her particular social context. Cf. for instance McConnell Ginet "Why Defining Marriage is Seldom 'Just Semantics': Marriage and Marriage" in The Language and Sexuality Reader (Cameron and Kulick). Zensufi 00:13, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Added POV tag[edit]

I added a POV tag because this article seemed very biassed, and similar concern was expressed on the talk page.
There are a lot of weasel words (and even weasel lists) in here. This article reads like it's trying to advocate polyandry, rather than explain it. The reader does not need a link to every polyandrous species.
(What is "reverse sexual dimorphism"?)
-Haikon 11:56, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't have feeling that the article is advocating polyandry. I think that when the phenomenon exists it is necessary to explain the conditions when it is likely to exist. This is not the same as saying that under these specific conditions polyandry is better than other mating systems. Reverse sexual dimorphism - in this context - means that females are bigger than males. In mammals (including humans) males are (on average) bigger than females. So if in any mammal species females are (on average) bigger the dimorphism would be "reverse". But I agree that it can be misleading, because in most earth's species (most invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles) females are usually bigger. So we can say that mammals' and birds' sexual dimorphism is "reverse". Maybe it needs clarification in the article. I'll do this. Jasra 21:21, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

The comments above already declare that the article is biased, but I couldn't help but copy here the line that I found to be the most biased, and even argumentative: "With particular regard to the supposed failure rate of polyandry (and polygamy in general), it is important to note that there are high rates of infidelity and divorce in 'monogamous' societies, so that it is possible to argue that polyandry is not somehow uniquely unworkable." Here the use of the word "supposed," understood to be synonymous with "purported" in this context, creates a biased argument in and of itself. Putting "monogamous" in quotes is done mockingly or cynically, with a sense of irony intended. The author contrasts the rule of one system with the flaws of another, and implies that polyanthry is immune to infidelity and divorce.

The bottom line is that over one third of the section dealing with the controversy of polyanthry is dedicated to its defense. - Andrew (no user name) 7/15/07 6am

gay group marriage[edit]

Is marriage between 3 or more men really excluded from the definition of polyandry? wordreference says "more than one simultaneous husband."Brinerustle 00:48, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

   Eh.....  —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:42, 19 October 2007 (UTC)  
Polyandry specifically refers to females having multiple male husbands. Marriage between 3 men would be considered a group marriage. See also: polyamory. Arcadious (talk) 14:28, 17 July 2010 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

There are currently 8 articles on polygamy: Group marriage, Polyfidelity, Polygamy, Plural marriage, Polygyny, Polyandry, Fraternal polyandry, Sororal polygyny, I think we could merge at least the last two.Brinerustle 01:18, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

You forgot Polygynandry, which is now a bio stub, but needs expansion for its anthropological use, e.g. in Tibet, as repoerted by Melvyn Goldstein or Nancy Levine or Ben Jiao. And, I suppose, Polyandry in Tibet makes it a round 10. Actually, that last one already describes to some extent fraternal polyandry generically (as it is the main variant in the region) and Sororal polygyny as well as Bigenerational polyandry and Bigenerational polygyny. The thing about Polygynandry is that, in human terms, it is a synonym used by anthropologists for Group marriage, as well as an analogous term in ecology for persistent couplings, but no biologist will be caught dead talking about group marriage in spiders or ducks, so that the thematic range of the two terms is not one-on-one and onto :), and we wan't just redirect one to the other. --Mareklug talk 13:57, 14 April 2008 (UTC)
P.s. And I forgot about Promiscuity, which ecologically completes teh spectrum for Monogamy, Polyandry, Polygyny and Polygynandry, but does not have the same neat grouping in anthropology or for that matter any human discussion of Marriage. So, in sum, I'm not sure combining holds much promise, with the same word having different applications, discipline depending. --Mareklug talk 14:09, 14 April 2008 (UTC)
I think the issue has been resolved, as several of these articles have been combined already. --Gimme danger (talk) 14:14, 14 April 2008 (UTC)
Theres still some work to be done in linking appropriate articles to each other. Polyfidelity probably could be merged with another article. Arcadious (talk) 14:38, 17 July 2010 (UTC)

Ants and other insects[edit]

Couldn't ants be classified as polyandrous? I think examples like queen ants and queen bees are more accessible to laypeople (like me) than marmosets, Agile frogs, and polecats. ("Queen bee" is a fairly common household cliché--in the US, at least. i think bees are mentioned only twice in the article the way it is.) does anyone else have an opinion about this?--Jmjanzen (talk) 19:29, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Yes, polyandry is common in social Hymenoptera and particularly so in Queen bees. In fact most female insects mate with multiple males. However, the question 'why' (and even a simple question like 'how do they know when to stop') might be a bit of a can of worms for this article since it's the subject of considerable ongoing discussion and research. There are all sorts of hypothesis involving very different direct and indirect mechanisms. I'm not sure it is very accessible. On the other hand it would be good if this article covered the subject or perhaps it deserves it's own article. Sean.hoyland - talk 18:19, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Ants & bees fit polyandry, but not well. Queen ants & bees only breed once in their life. During that one breeding session, the queens breed with multiple drones (males) and store & use the sperm for the rest of their lives. The drones die shortly after mating. See also: haplodiploid sex-determination system. Ants, bees, & wasps probably should not be used as examples for a subject that deals with human sexuality, as the differences between reproductive systems is too wide to be drawing meaningful comparisons. As for a separate article, I think the topic is sufficiently covered in articles about those insects. Arcadious (talk) 14:59, 17 July 2010 (UTC)

Does the Hebrew Bible actually prohibit polyandry?[edit]

The text of the main article states:

The Hebrew Bible prohibits polyandry. For a woman to have sexual relations when she is married to another (which would include a situation such as polyandry) would constitute adultery, with the consequences that it would have on her status, as well as of her children from that relationship.

The definition of adultery is to have sexual relations with one who is not your spouse. This contradicts the statement that Polyandry would result in adulterous behaviour. Therefore, we have two separate issues in the above text. One is a statement begging a citation from the Hebrew Bible (theoretically from Leviticus). The second statement is an illogical proof to substantiate the first.

Of course IANAR (as opposed to IANAL) and the debate over the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible is really the bailiwick of someone who is a Rabbi.

Lordandrei (talk) 00:32, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

This is exactly what I thought when reading the article. Four and a half years later, and it hasn't changed; guess it's up to us to do it ourselves. Xiong Chiamiov ::contact:: help! 10:19, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
I've rewritten the first part and added references. - Lindert (talk) 13:03, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

I doubt that there's an explicit statement in the Old Testament banning polyandry, but it was written in the context of a non-polyandrous society, and the legal arrangements specified in it would not appear to allow for polyandry. AnonMoos (talk) 17:18, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

The Future of Polyandry.[edit]

I suggest a section on the Future of Polyandry. There is growing gender imbalance in China and India as parents select the gender of babies and prefer sons. China and India are likely to support polyandry in the future, and polyandry may emerge on a scale never seen before in history.

Some women like strong gender role segregation. Female identity includes being desirable and subordinate to men, and many women will appreciate the opportunity to have their female identity recognised and appreciated. Male identity includes dominating and cherishing women, and polyandry gives the best possible opportunities for men to provide for and cherish women. Some men will prefer a share in a good wife or concubine than exclusive access to a wife of lesser female ability.

Sugar Daddy58.165.167.146 (talk) 06:29, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

Do you have any sources to suggest that could be incorporated into the article? Your own analysis cannot be written in, as this would violate Wikipedia's policy against original research. I have seen some speculation regarding your first paragraph but I cannot remember whether where it was or whether it was in a reliable source.--Gimme danger (talk) 06:43, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
There is a Wikipedia article, List of countries by sex ratio, taken from the CIA Fact Book. Newspaper articles suggest that the gender imbalance is growing, & if these reports are correct, the imbalance may be due to improving methods of sex selection, also a Wikipdedia article.
You are right to say that my remarks cannot be incorporated. I was trying to specify something objective, such as gender imbalance, to predict rising polyandry in the future. Polyandry is so rare that even a steep rise, to levels never seen before in history, will still make it a relatively rare phenomenon. ---Sugar Daddy58.165.167.146 (talk) 10:10, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Because of WWII, there was a drop in the number of males in the population, which lead to an increase in the number of unmarried women (old maids). Changing sex ratios don't directly affect societal views on polygamy. Even citing sex ratios, I would classify that kind of conclusion as original research. Arcadious (talk) 15:22, 17 July 2010 (UTC)

The Polygyny and Polyandry pages should be symmetrical[edit]

Just had a look at the Polyandry page, then went to the Polygyny page. I think that the Polygyny and Polyandry pages deal with sex/role reversed relationships, so I would expect them to have the same sections in the same order. Assuming that we're all in the intellectual-sexual-equality boat together. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:32, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

Not sure that the two phenomena are fully symmetrical; cultures with full polyandry restrict it to fraternal polyandry only more often than cultures with full polygyny restrict it to sororal polygyny only, and cultures with full polygyny seem to be more common than cultures with full polyandry. (By "full" I mean an exclusive marriage relationship. In many anthropological cultures, for a woman to have occasional sex with her husband's brothers or for a man to have occasional sex with his wife's sisters was not considered adultery, but was not part of an exclusive closed marriage relationship either...) AnonMoos (talk) 22:00, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
AFAIK Wikipedia does not have a policy of harmonizing similar or related articles. We strive to be consistent within any article, but as Wikipedia is a collaborative effort, we do not require any constant format or structure for different articles. The editors working on the polygyny article may have different ideas about the order and naming of sections than editors at the polyandry article (and they may have their reasons for it). - Lindert (talk) 17:13, 28 May 2012 (UTC)
PS Feel free to ignore the previous post, I did not look at the date of the discussion

Pop culture reference/examples[edit]

Do other editors here think it would be worth including a section listing examples of polyandry in popular culture? Off hand, a couple I can think of are:

  1. Heather Lochlear's character on Ally McBeal
  2. The film Splendor

I'm sure there are others too, but I can't think of any now. Violet Fae (talk) 07:07, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Polyandry is an aboveboard and legally-recognized public stable relationship between a woman and two or more men. In societies where polyandry is not recognized in this way, you can have bigamy, cuckoldry, "open marriage", or a menage-à-trois, but not really "polyandry" in its main meaning... AnonMoos (talk) 08:08, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Need to add section for polyandry in North America[edit]

I am personally not an expert in this area, but there is a list of quotes/citations on polyandry in Africa, Asia, South America, Pacific Islands, but there is not a subsection with quotes regarding polyandry in North American Indigenous tribes. Earlier in the article there is a very brief mention of polyandry being practiced in North American Indigenous tribes, and then there are a couple references to Saskatchewan having family court recognition of polyandry and polygny, but the article leaves open the question of whether this is part of a First Nations tribal law in Canada or it being just a regular Canadian provincial law. I think this area needs to be further defined. I know that Ojibwe (sometimes spelled Ojibway or the Americanized version Chippewa) peoples in Canada and the northern US did have some practice of polyandry. Listing most other continents but leaving out North American Indigenous leaves a hole in the article, especially after mentioning it in the beginning of the article but never following up. Brit Marie — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:43, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

Polyandry in North American Indigenous tribes/nations[edit]

Was not signed in. Here is signed comment.

There is a list of quotes/citations on polyandry in Africa, Asia, South America, Pacific Islands, but there is not a subsection with quotes regarding polyandry in North American Indigenous tribes. Earlier in the article there is a very brief mention of polyandry being practiced in North American Indigenous tribes, and then there are a couple references to Saskatchewan having family court recognition of polyandry and polygny, but the article leaves open the question of whether this is part of a First Nations tribal law in Canada or it being just a regular Canadian provincial law. I think this area needs to be further defined. I know that Ojibwe (sometimes spelled Ojibway or the Americanized version Chippewa) peoples in Canada and the northern US did have some practice of polyandry. Listing most other continents but leaving out North American Indigenous leaves a hole in the article, especially after mentioning it in the beginning of the article but never following up. I'm looking for citations, but others may have expertise in this area. Britly — Preceding unsigned comment added by Britly (talkcontribs) 17:45, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

Social sustainability linked to certainty of biological paternity?[edit]

Your thoughts on removing the following sentence from the introduction: "it has been argued that the practice would raise social and economic issues and the widespread use of the practice would be socially unsustainable, as the certainty of paternity of children born to the woman would be extremely difficult to determine." At present, there is no citation for this claim. There are also two requests for citations in the section of the article titled "Differences of interpretation" that are over four years old. Unless reliable sources for these claims can be provided, I advocate removing all three of these sentences that lack citations.Ctconnolly (talk) 02:02, 18 August 2012 (UTC)

Sounds like someone's personal speculation, though Thomas Aquinas once said something similar as an argument against fornication.[1] From the evolutionary point of view, what's most important that raising children requires substantial effort over a long time, and uncertainty of paternity may make the mother's partner less inclined to share the childrearing burden and/or provide resources to the mother. This is why the majority of societies with polyandry have fraternal polyandry only (since any children of the marriage would at least be the nephews/nieces of the other husbands). AnonMoos (talk) 02:10, 21 August 2012 (UTC)

This article could use a “Legal status” section[edit]

I've heard that Canada legalized polyandry. Here's something to start from. EIN (talk) 17:15, 25 October 2012 (UTC)

polyandry and paternal investment[edit]

The last sentence in the section "Polyandry in zoology" reads "Paternal investment is often high in polyandrous species." Not only is this claim completely unreferenced, it exactly opposes theoretical predictions. Polyandry is generally associated with sperm competition and hence paternity uncertainty. Hence, all else being equal, polyandry would result in less paternal care. Perhaps this statement refers to a 'niche' interpretation of polyandry (e.g. harem polyandry, if we can call it that), but that should be made clear then. I propose to get rid of this sentence altogether.

By the way, I would advocate turning this page upside down, and make 'Human polyandry' the section (humans are animals!), but I imagine there would be little support for this. I do think it's important to distinguish social and genetic polyandry throughout this page though. Arguments whether polyandry in humans is rare clearly refer to the former. There are plenty of studies showing that a significant proportion of offspring in humans result from so-called extra-pair copulations, and this is clearly an underestimate of the real rate, since not all copulations result in offspring. Humans also show mate-guarding behaviour, which can only be explained through a tendency for polyandry. There are plenty of examples of species that are socially monogamous but genetically polygamous. (talk) 04:41, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

Polyandry is not the same thing as promiscuity. In fraternal polyandry, any children are related to each of the husbands at least as closely as nephew and niece. And some cultures with polyandry have customs whereby each of the brothers would take turns staying with the woman for a week or more, which would greatly reduce sperm competition... AnonMoos (talk) 03:31, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
P.S. Among non-human primates, tamarins and some marmosets apparently have both a somewhat polyandrous social structure and a very high paternal involvement in childcare... AnonMoos (talk) 02:35, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
Then it ought to be referenced. Note though that polyandry is the norm in the animal kingdom and that, in the scheme of things, the mating systems you're referring to are oddities. Do a search on Scholar for "benefits of polyandry" - currently 776 papers largely in systems without any parental care. The article could use a systematic discussion of its taxonomic prevalence rather than this by-taxon approach.
A lot of the confusion here comes from divergent definitions. In some branches of biology 'polyandry' has come to describe very specific mating systems far removed from the simple females-mate-with-multiple-males definition. I would advocate that such meanings would be explicitly described. Similar issues here with 'polygyny'.
Promiscuity is an anthropocentric word that is widely abused in the literature. While it describes a lack of mate discrimination, females often mate very deliberately with multiple males, and with very specific males (e.g. in extra-pair copulations). (talk) 13:47, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
That's nice -- what it seems to come down to is that abstract "selfish gene" type mathematics makes a prediction, but such predictions are not borne out in many cases. Thus the problem seems to be with the theory, not with the observations of behavior... AnonMoos (talk) 20:44, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're saying. Could you be more specific? (talk) 04:22, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
The Selfish Gene was a famous book published about 35 years ago now. It can be used as a derogatory/admiring shorthand (depending on your views) for abstract mathematical calculations of how animals theoretically should behave, based on considerations such as paternal investment, kin selection, sperm competition, etc. If observed animal behavior does not fit with the theoretical mathematical calculations, then we really don't say that the animals are "behaving wrongly"(?!) -- instead, the problem must be with the theory. All the citable information I have on tamarins and some marmosets comes from basic introductory textbooks, but I could add a reference to such textbook(s) if you like... AnonMoos (talk) 18:43, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Sure, but apart from some very basic calculations of relatedness, kin selection, and games, The Selfish Gene is a largely oral argument. I'm just not sure what 'gene' or 'mathematics' you refer to, nor how polyandry would be inconsistent with the idea of selfish agents. The body of theory and empirical evidence on the direct and indirect benefits of polyandry is vast - no problems there.
To get back to the main point though, the sentence "Paternal investment is often high in polyandrous species" is at best unhelpful, since 'often' is a weasel word and confers no real quantitative information, and at worst deceptive. This is what I think should be referenced or removed. To be honest, the whole idea of classing "Sociobiology of polyandry" as a subset of "Polyandry in Zoology" is odd. Regardless how you define it, Sociobiology is applied primarily to humans, and how evolutionary principles and non-human analogies apply to human social behaviour (starting with some coverage in Wilson's "Sociobiology: The New Synthesis", decending into Thornhill and Palmer's work on the sociobiology of rape). I'm not saying there are no biologists working on non-human social behaviour and would classify it as Sociobiology (esp. people working on eusocial systems), but just look at the discipline categories in Web of Knowledge when you search for sociobiology: Zoology and Biology are the only two relevant categories in the top 12 (ranked 6 and 12, with Evolutionary Biology and Ecology coming in at 16 and 19), the rest is human focussed, e.g. Sociology (1), Behavioural Sciences (2), Anthropology (3), etc. The top 7 years in terms of papers published all were in the beginning of the 80s. Sociobiology seems to have been largely replaced by Evolutionary Psychology, which is experiencing very rapid growth, especially when compared to Sociobiology. Yet, I don't really see that reflected in this section here, or how it differs from the above.
Just for the fun of it, compare the "in Zoology" section to Polyandry in Fish page for a more thoughtful discussion of polyandry. (talk) 08:12, 16 September 2013 (UTC)

"Pandu aka Jacob in Bible"  ?[edit]

Came across the following text in the section "Religious attitudes to polyandry"

Technically speaking Draupadi was married to five different men, though they all were born to the same mother, who had 5 different men to father her children. It is said in GOTHRA or lineage history that they were considered not as biological brothers coming from a same father (Pandu aka Jacob in Bible), because Yuddhishthira was fathered by Dharma, Arjuna by Indra, Bhima by Vayu, Nakula and SahaDeva by Ashvinikumars. They came from different fathers as Pandu could not have kids of his own due to impotency.

Have come across lot of weird theories but never came across this one. Doesn't even make sense but I didn't delete, the whole section is inconsistent.
Danishctc (talk) 20:09, 7 October 2013 (UTC)


I added a couple sentences and a citation using my organism as an example of a species that has a polyandrous mating system. The section I added can be found under the “Sociobiology of polyandry” header. kzyoung (talk) 01:53, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

mormons did not practice polyandry[edit]


The sourced magazine states in their conclusion: So, getting back to my title, “Joseph Smith’s Sexual Polyandry and the Emperor’s New Clothes: On Closer Inspection, What Do We Find?”

  1. Assumptions
  2. Can’t prove a negative
  3. No solid evidence
  4. Passionate convictions
  5. No accounting for Joseph Smith’s teachings on polyandry
  6. No accounting for contradictory evidence

Wholesomegood (talk) 01:12, 17 June 2014 (UTC)