I posted Debi’s and my newborn photos a while back and asked people to vote for who they thought Toren looked the most like. Turns out, 2/3 of those who voted (pretty small sample, people) chose me (I’m parent #2). Now I find out that Toren looking like me is probably an evolutionary adaptation.

Here’s how it works: There’s no question about Toren’s maternity. He came out of Debi; so unless she injected an embryo at some point, he is her biological offspring. But my contribution was, how do we put this delicately, rather small. And, frankly, that level of contribution could have been made by any number of people (of course I’m not saying it was; I’m just saying that the amount of time required means paternity is always more of a question that maternity). Ergo, evolution has tended to favor babies who look like their fathers. Why? Fathers will be more likely to care for the babies if they look like them.

This was kind of confirmed by the following photo of mine:

Ryan at about one
Ryan at about one

Now compare that photo with this one of Toren:

Toren looking like his Dad
Toren looking like his Dad

(It’s hard to argue that Toren’s mouth is basically identical to mine in this photo.  His eyes are pretty similar as well.)

Toren does look like I did when I was young.

But, here’s the ironic twist of evolution: Toren isn’t really likely to look like me by about the age of 20. When asked to match offspring with parents at 1, 10, and 20, people could match offspring with fathers very well at 1, okay at 10, but no better than chance at 20. Matching children with mothers was no better than chance.

Ergo, evolution has, once again, developed a nifty trait to ensure the survival of our offspring – babies look like their fathers, at least until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Pretty slick!

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