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Females develop both physically and mentally earlier than males do. For example; females start puberty at an earlier age than males, and females brains mature more quickly than male brains.

Girls have always developed earlier than boys - on average the onset of puberty happens between the age of 8 and 12 years in girls and between 9 and 14 years in boys.

Is there an evolutionary basis for this? Are there theories for why females mature earlier in life?

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi @WYSIWYG, I am not able to understand your comment. Perhaps it would be helpful if you could advise how I should clarify on the meaning of "evolutionary basis". Thank you. $\endgroup$ – Yvonne Liew Feb 24 '16 at 9:40
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    $\begingroup$ You should clarify what you expect to know when you ask for evolutionary basis? Do you mean to ask "whether it has/had any evolutionary advantage wrt fitness" or something else? Moreover, the linked article does not really say that the female brain matures faster than the male brain- if I am not wrong it is about brain network reorganization. I am not also sure what you mean by brain maturation. Can you please clarify this too? $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Feb 24 '16 at 9:55
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's a legitimate question, there is sexual dimorphism in maturation & onset of puberty, why is a genuine and interesting question $\endgroup$ – rg255 Feb 24 '16 at 10:06
  • $\begingroup$ To higher the survival rate of the species $\endgroup$ – user5434678 May 20 '16 at 21:05
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    $\begingroup$ You mix males/females and men/women. I know comparison with other species is useful, but is your question about us humans, or is it about a larger branch of the Tree of Life? $\endgroup$ – Rodrigo Aug 13 '16 at 1:20
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Reproduction is kind of the definition of biological success. Logically, it works because it works because it works. Provided that the mother is responsible and healthy, there's a good chance the offspring will survive and reproduce. And since health and age are like opposing forces, the sooner a female develops and develops responsibility, the more likely they will be to reproduce and supply viable offspring to the population.

Similarly, males remain verile for many years past their prime. Since it doesn't matter (as much) whether the father survives child birth, his health is less important. More important (genetically) is the spread of his DNA. The more time a male has to do that the more his DNA will spread. So why not start earlier? Reproducing for an extra ten or twenty years will cause the spread of a much greater amount of DNA than 1 or 2 years early on, and (plausibly) since the male often has a dangerous occupation, males that develop(ed) later (when their size/strength was greater), probably help(ed) ensure the males' survival.

And there is something to say about sexual preference. It is likely that the males' disposition toward healthy females and a females' dispositon toward successful males is genetic... much like a bird who sings the best song. Why? Because it is/was a successful cascade of events.

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You may think about the reproductive success of a family, which depends on the reproductive success of sons and daughters.

The reproductive success of the sons is theoretically unlimited, provided they are big enough to win many competitions. To get bigger, it's good to have a larger growth period. Thus, latter maturation.

The (direct) reproductive success of daughters is limited by the duration of their fertile years. Thus, the more years of fertility, the bigger the reproductive success. Thus, early maturation.

EDIT

Somebody asked for references, so study evolutionary theory:

Darwin, The Origin of Species.

Dawkins, The Selfish Gene.

Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology.

Wilson, Sociobiology.

Wright, The Moral Animal.

I truly hope that's enough. If it isn't, just don't pretend to understand evolution, and quit trying to understand biology.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow, you totally stole my answer. $\endgroup$ – Ben Welborn Aug 13 '16 at 1:35
  • $\begingroup$ @BenWelborn I didn't even read your answer. $\endgroup$ – Rodrigo Aug 13 '16 at 1:51
  • $\begingroup$ I think you are on the right track. It would be great to (1) further the answer by including references about this hypothesis and typically (1bis) report and explain a published analytical model to explain this concept and (2) eventually cite a paper (if any exists) that apply this concept to humans $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Aug 14 '16 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Remi.b I hope you're satisfied now. $\endgroup$ – Rodrigo Aug 14 '16 at 9:23

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