From COSMOS Magazine - Science of Smooching (2007):
Mystery still surrounds the motive for that very first kiss.
As anthropologist Helen Fisher, of Rutgers University in New Jersey, notes, many species engage in behaviour that looks suspiciously similar.
- "When you find something in 90 per cent of cultures around the world and you also find it in a great many mammalian species, that's something innate," says Fisher.
Some trace the evolutionary origins of the kiss to mouth-to-mouth feeding of offspring, a behaviour observed in many species of birds and mammals.
Frans de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University in Atlanta, thinks kissing evolved as a way of communicating good intentions.
However, not everyone is convinced that kissing is a product of evolution.
- "Kissing is a behaviour that's 100 per cent learned and it has absolutely nothing to do with genetics," says Vaughn Bryant, professor of anthropology at Texas A&M University in College Station, USA. "If it were innate, everybody would be doing it — and they're not."
Bryant thinks kissing began as a way of screening potential partners by scent.
- Does kissing have an evolutionary or cultural origin?
- What's currently the most prominent theory (the one most scientists agree on)?