Strong gender differences in reproductive success variance, and the times to the most recent common ancestors
The Time To the Most Recent Common Ancestor (TMRCA) based on human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is estimated to be twice that based on the non-recombining part of the Y chromosome (NRY). These TMRCAs have special demographic implications because mtDNA is transmitted only from mother to child, and NRY from father to son. Therefore, mtDNA reflects female history, and NRY, male history. To investigate what caused the two-to-one female-male TMRCA ratio in humans, we develop a forward-looking agent-based model (ABM) with overlapping generations and individual life cycles. We implement two main mating systems: polygynandry and polygyny with different degrees in between. In each mating system, the male population can be either homogeneous or heterogeneous. In the latter case, some males are `alphas' and others are `betas', which reflects the extent to which they are favored by female mates. A heterogeneous male population implies a competition among males with the purpose of signaling as alphas. The introduction of a heterogeneous male population is found to reduce by a factor 2 the probability of finding equal female and male TMRCAs and shifts the distribution of the TMRCA ratio to higher values. We find that high male-male competition is necessary to reproduce a TMRCA ratio of 2: less than half the males can be alphas and betas can have at most half the fitness of alphas. In addition, in the modes that maximize the probability of having a TMRCA ratio between 1.5 and 2.5, the present generation has 1.4 times as many female as male ancestors. We also tested the effect of sex-biased migration and sex-specific death rates and found that these are unlikely to explain alone the sex-biased TMRCA ratio observed in humans. Our results support the view that we are descended from males who were successful in a highly competitive context, while females were facing a much smaller female-female competition.