Mateo, J.M. 2015. Hamilton's legacy: Mechanisms of kin recognition in humans. Ethology, 121, 419-427.
The behavior literature is replete with examples of individuals exhibiting costly acts that benefit someone else. These examples troubled Darwin so much so that he thought they would be fatal to his theory of natural selection. A century later, W. D. Hamilton refined that theory by showing, quantitatively, that such acts could be favored if the individuals involved were relatives. His theory of inclusive fitness is generally considered one of the greatest theoretical advances in evolution since Darwin's time. Less appreciated from Hamilton's 1964 paper is the hypothesis that mechanisms favoring accurate kin recognition will also be selected. Here, I review those recognition mechanisms and survey the literature on human kin recognition. Although not often considered, humans both produce cues to kinship that vary with genetic relatedness and have perceptual abilities to detect these cues in others and assess that relatedness. The potential functions of these abilities are discussed. Importantly, gaps in our understanding of the development and use of recognition mechanisms are noted.