Human's snore. I doubt this is a new occurence over the last millenia. I find it hard to believe that for the past million years, no human ancestor has been a snorrer.

And yet, the sound of snoring is incredibly irritating to humans.

Could there be any evolutionary basis for these two facts?

One thing I could think of is perhaps snoring serves a purpose of making adult males seek out their own homes and families.

A male child may be inclined to be so annoyed by his father's snoring that he goes off into the world to seek his fortune.

If it didn't serve a useful purpose, surely it would have died out, simply because other humans would be so annoyed by snoring that they would murder snorrers in their sleep and hence reduce the genes for snorring.

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    $\begingroup$ Possibly relevant: biology.stackexchange.com/questions/35532/… $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Oct 4 '19 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ We didn't evolve to snore, snoring is a byproduct of other traits, mostly the ones that allow for speech. $\endgroup$ – John Oct 5 '19 at 1:08
  • $\begingroup$ Who is "we"? Not all humans snore. Snoring is basically a symptom of illness. We cough and sneeze as well, and sniffle when we have colds, all of which many people find annoying. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 5 '19 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ Human are not the only animals that snore. $\endgroup$ – kmm Oct 6 '19 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ So humans are not the only animals that snore and also snoreing is a symptom of illness? So does that mean only ill animals snore? So are you saying there is a trade-off between speaking and snoring. If so, why haven't we evolved to not find snoring so annoying? $\endgroup$ – zooby Oct 6 '19 at 18:51

A very common misconception about evolution is that traits are directed toward a function. It a trait exists, it must be adaptive. This is false. As for snoring, people generally do not snore until they are past the age humans evolved to survive (about 35). To be selected against, those who snore would have to be less fit (fitness defined as the number of offspring produced). Traits that develop after an organism has reproduced have absolutely no bearing on selection. Similarly, we don't evolve resistance to heart disease, or cancer, because these diseases occur after we reproduce.

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    $\begingroup$ But we do have some degree of resistance to heart disease & cancer, enough that our odds of getting those things are a good deal higher if we adopt lifestyles that we would have been unlikely to encounter during evolutionary history. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 6 '19 at 2:49
  • $\begingroup$ Yes.And this is another example of an anachronism when it comes our best options today vs. 10,000 years ago. Our genes lag far behind the present conditions. $\endgroup$ – Karl Kjer Oct 6 '19 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ Where do you get that we evolved to survive to 35? That sounds doesn't sound true. Just thinking about the Native American tribes, there are lots of photos of them with very old people. Many people believe we evolved to live long lives and be grandparents to pass on our wisdom. If you're thinking of average life expectancy don't forget to remove all the humans that died in childhood. Those that survived childhood tended to live long lives. $\endgroup$ – zooby Oct 6 '19 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps snorring is annoying to make females mate with males under 35! If you think about it, what young human female wants to mate with a middle aged snorring man. Snoring could indicate bad health or age like you say. $\endgroup$ – zooby Oct 6 '19 at 18:52

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