Send to

Choose Destination
Evol Hum Behav. 2000 May 1;21(3):163-183.

The 2nd:4th digit ratio, sexual dimorphism, population differences, and reproductive success. evidence for sexually antagonistic genes?

Author information

Population Biology Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK


The ratio between the length of the 2nd and 4th digit (2D:4D) is sexually dimorphic, with mean male 2D:4D lower than mean female 2D:4D. It recently was suggested that 2D:4D is negatively correlated with prenatal testosterone and positively correlated with prenatal estrogen. It is argued that high prenatal testosterone and low estrogen (indicated by low 2D:4D) favors the male fetus and low prenatal testosterone and high estrogen (indicated by high 2D:4D) favors the female fetus. The patterns of expression of 2D:4D are interpreted in terms of sexually antagonistic genes.We report data on the following. (a) reproductive success and 2D:4D from England, Germany, Spain, Hungary (ethnic Hungarians and Gypsy subjects), Poland, and Jamaica (women only). Significant negative associations were found between 2D:4D in men and reproductive success in the English and Spanish samples and significant positive relationships between 2D:4D in women and reproductive success in the English, German, and Hungarian samples. The English sample also showed that married women had higher 2D:4D ratios than unmarried women, suggesting male choice for a correlate of high ratio in women, and that a female 2D:4D ratio greater than male 2D:4D predicted high reproductive success within couples. Comparison of 2D:4D ratios of 62 father:child pairs gave a significant positive relationship. This suggested that genes inherited from the father had some influence on the formation of the 2D:4D ratio. Waist:hip ratio in a sample of English and Jamaican women was negatively related to 2D:4D. (b) Sex and population differences in mean 2D:4D in samples from England, Germany, Spain, Hungary (including ethnic Hungarians and Gypsy subjects), Poland, Jamaica, Finland, and South Africa (a Zulu sample). Significant sex and population differences in mean 2D:4D were apparent.


Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center