Evolution is making women become increasingly beautiful, while their male peers remain as aesthetically unappealing as their cavemen ancestors, scientists have found.

Researchers found that beautiful women have more children compared to their more plain counterparts, and a higher proportion of those children are female. When these daughters grow up, they also tend to become attractive, thus repeating the cycle.

Over generations, the researchers say, this cycle has made women become steadily more aesthetically pleasing. The findings have emerged from a series of studies of physical attractiveness and its links to reproductive success in humans.

In a recent study, Markus Jokela, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, found that beautiful women had up to 16% more children than men did. The study was carried out using data gathered in America, in which 1,244 women and 997 men were followed through four decades of life. Their attractiveness was assessed from photographs taken during the study, which also recorded how many children they had.

This developed from previous research by Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, who found that good-looking parents were more likely to conceive daughters. It was suggested that this was an evolutionary strategy programmed into human DNA.

Kanazawa said: "Physical attractiveness is a highly heritable trait, which disproportionately increases the reproductive success of daughters much more than that of sons."

"If more attractive parents have more daughters and if physical attractiveness is heritable, it logically follows that women over many generations gradually become moer physically attractive on average than men."

Somehow, in men, good looks seem to count for little, with handsome men being no more successful than others in terms of how many children they had. This means there has been little pressure for men's appearance to evolve.

Gayle Brewer, a psychology lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, said: "Men and women seek different things in their partners."

"For women, looks are much less important in a man than his ability to look after her when she is pregnant and nursing, periods when women are vulnerable to predators. Historically this has meant rich men tend to have more wives and many children. So the pressure is on men to be successful."

And all this while we thought that it was plastic surgery making women more "beautiful".

[via TimesOnline]