Sheril Kirshenbaum delves into the origins of one of the most intimate forms of human expression. Here’s an excerpt.
Chapter 1: The Hunt for Kissing’s Origins: First Contact
When it comes to humanity’s fi rst kiss, or its predecessor in another species, we have no way of knowing exactly how and why, once upon a time, it happened.
After all, there are kisses of joy, of passion and lust, of love and endearment, of commitment and comfort, of social grace and necessity, of sorrow and supplication. It would be silly to assume all these different types of kisses developed from a single behavior or cause; in all likelihood, we kiss as we do today for multiple reasons, not just one.In fact, scientists suspect that kissing arose and disappeared around the globe at different times and different places throughout history.
So while there are certainly some convincing theories out there about how kissing may have emerged, nobody claims that they represent absolute truth. At best, they possess a degree of plausibility that makes them persuasive. In this chapter, we’ll survey four such theories, each of which has a basis in the scientific literature.
Scientists have proposed two separate relationships between kissing and our feeding experiences in infancy and early childhood. They have also suggested that kissing may have emerged from the practice of smelling another individual of the species as a means of recognition. I will examine each of these theories, but will begin with perhaps the most intriguing one of all: the idea that the behavior arose due to a complex connection between color vision, sexual desire, and the evolution of human lips.