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Genital mutilation, in this view, is just another way to win the sperm war.

In some forms of mutilation, the handicap to sperm competition is obvious.

Younger men, he says, willingly submit to having their reproductive ability reduced because they benefit socially from the older men, by forming alliances, and by gaining access to weapons or tribal lore.

READERS: So why did human penises evolve to have foreskin at all then? The best way to think about most adaptations is in terms of cost/benefit ratios.

So why do some societies insist on such a risky ritual for their men?

There may be an evolutionary explanation, according to Christopher Wilson, of Cornell University in New York, US.

MGM rituals should facilitate access to social benefits; they should be highly public, watched mainly by men, and performed by a nonrelative.

I found support for these six predictions in two cross-cultural samples.

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