Monogamy is the custom or condition of having only one mate in a relationship, thus forming a couple. The word monogamy comes from the Greek word monos, which means one or alone, and the Greek word gamos, which means marriage or union. Serial monogamy is having no more than one sexual partner at a time but allows for multiple partners in a lifetime. In western culture serial monogamy is common; evidence of this is high divorce rates.
Monogamy is one of several mating systems observed in animals. The amount of social monogamy in animals varies across taxa, with over 90 percent of birds engaging in social monogamy but only 7 percent of mammals engaging in social monogamy. The incidence of sexual monogamy appears quite rare in the animal kingdom. It is becoming clear that even animals that are socially monogamous engage in extra-pair copulations.
Socially monogamous species are scattered throughout the animal kingdom: A few insects, a few fish, a lot of birds, and a few mammals are socially monogamous. These species did not inherit social monogamy from a common ancestor. Instead, social monogamy has evolved independently in different species. Hera, a Greek god, protected monogamy.
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