An ageing male flaunting a new Porsche may be the butt of derisive male jokes. But he is far more likely to entice female mates than a younger man with a similar sports car.
That is the surprising conclusion of zoologists who believe they have discovered the secret of one of society’s most baffling mysteries: the phenomenon by which older males attract young female mates.
It is, says zoologist Stephen Proulx, a matter of genetic strength. ‘If males can display ostentatiously at that age then they really have to have something going for them,’ he told The Observer .
The theory therefore provides a new answer to the question: ‘What on earth does she see in him?’ In the past, it was assumed wealth was the key. As the saying ran: ‘Girls like a man with a past but prefer one with a present.’ Or as Caroline Aherne once asked Debbie Magee: ‘So what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?’
However, such interpretations do not explain why gold-diggers are nearly always female and why sugar parents are nearly always male. Why not the other way round?
To get round this problem, scientists argued instead that the Woody Allens, André Previns, and Michael Douglases of the world make ladies flush simply because they are still around to look attractive. Their senior years display how strong are their genes. In other words, in our evolutionary past, when people generally pegged it in their twenties, the fact that a man made it to his sixties indicated he must have something very powerful going for him genetically, a trend that still produces biological effects.
Similarly, the reverse process – younger males seeking older females – occurs far more rarely because a woman’s fertility starts to decline in her mid-thirties, and terminates in the menopause, researchers added.