In behavioral biology, a class of sexual strategies
in which the female of a species hides the identity of the male who impregnated her. In creatures with multiple mating partners, this can confer a variety of advantages to the offspring. For example:
- Increased support from local males who have developed the strategy of protecting or feeding youngsters who might be their kin.
- Avoiding infanticide from local males who have developed the strategy of killing youngsters who definitely aren't their kin.
Obviously, this does not have to have anything to do with conscious choice. One classic example is the human adaptation of cryptic estrus: since people do the deed all year round, and there are no clear visual signs that a woman is ovulating 'n fertile, any of her multiple sexual partners with the necessary equipment may reasonably presume that he is the father of her child. Is this ever useful? Studies have shown that a woman is significantly more likely to begin an affair during ovulation than during the rest of her cycle.
Of course, in many species males have evolved counter-strategies to optimize their own reproductive potentials -- from the relatively tame hook sperm to vicious sabotage, such as Drosophila melanogaster's poisonous sperm