Cavewomen and wives
With typical sensitivity and intellectual rigour, The Sunday Times today reports Cavegirls were first blondes to have fun. There is, however, an apparently peer-reviewed science story behind it:
According to the study, north European women evolved blonde hair and blue eyes at the end of the Ice Age to make them stand out from their rivals at a time of fierce competition for scarce males.
The study argues that blond hair originated in the region because of food shortages 10,000-11,000 years ago. Until then, humans had the dark brown hair and dark eyes that still dominate in the rest of the world. Almost the only sustenance in northern Europe came from roaming herds of mammoths, reindeer, bison and horses. Finding them required long, arduous hunting trips in which numerous males died, leading to a high ratio of surviving women to men.
Lighter hair colours, which started as rare mutations, became popular for breeding and numbers increased dramatically, according to the research, published under the aegis of the University of St Andrews.
I think, however, there are more than few unanswered questions here. Do we know that only the men hunted? No. Do we have any indication that such societies practiced monogamy? No.
And quite what the quote on the end from Jilly Cooper about getting her bottom pinched has to do with paleoloithic hunters, I'm not quite sure.
The "cavewomen" might anyway have been better off on their own, judging from this study:
Marriage helps husbands to an extra 1.7 years, but it knocks 1.4 years off the average wife's lifespan, according to the study of more than 100,000 people across Europe.