Hi kdmac6 and thank you for a very interesting question,
During my (extensive!) research I came across several sites which
described the studies of anthropologists in Australia as well as some
Pacific islands whose inhabitants (up until recently) did not
recognize the correlation between intercourse and pregnancy. However
there is doubt as to whether these tribes actually believed that.
What I mean is that either for religious or social reasons that was
the official explanation, but their actual understanding of
reproduction might have been more correct.
Here are a couple of extracts from the websites:
That is, it was fairly common knowledge, particularly among Jigalong
youth, that white European Australians believed in a link between sex
and pregnancy-this was what the whites would tell the 'ignorant
Aborigines' at every possible occasion. Jigalong ideas in this
post-contact era were, however, not so clear cut, and Tonkinson found
through direct fieldwork experience that the elder men were adamant
that talk of semen and menstrual blood was 'dirty talk' which was
offensive to relate to discourses on human conception, in which it was
assumed that humans came about by the in-carnating of Dreaming
Australian Aborigines, who believed that a spirit enters woman's womb
causing her to conceive (Ashley-Montagu 1937, cf. Hiatt 1990: 114);
the Trobriand Islanders, who believed that conception succeeds when a
spirit-child animated by the ancestral spirit baloma enters woman's
belly (Malinowski 1968); and the Tully River Blacks, who believed that
a woman begets children because she has been sitting over the fire,
roasting a particular species of black bream given to her by a
prospective father, or dreams about a child being put inside her (Roth
1903: 22, cf. Spiro 1968: 242).
The truth is that we will never know when people became aware of the
relationship between intercourse and pregnancy.
For most of humanity's existence the notion of fatherhood was
non-existent, as the relationship between sex and pregnancy wasn't
known. It is impossible to say when this discovery was made, but even
after the notion of paternity was established there was a tendency for
a child's kinship to be traced primarily or only through its mother as
the biological father's identity was still doubtful.
Have a look at this e-mail discussion from the University of Sydney
which asks exactly the same question that you did:
When did man first recognize the correlation between intercourse and
babies being born 3 seasons later?
As you will see a website recommended in the discussion above is this
There is not much to go on by way of hard facts, however based on my
research it would seem that the realization that intercourse=babies
might have come about when mankind first started breeding animals
between 10 and 30 thousand years ago so your estimate of ten thousand
years ago fits in quite well !
I hope this has helped to answer your question and on behalf of many
other researchers and readers, thanks for a truly thought provoking
Search Terms Used:
"relationship between sex and pregnancy"
correlation sex pregnancy primitive