PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Cue the misogynistic jokes: A new study claims men really might be better than women with directions.

According to research done in Africa by the University of Utah, men may have evolved to be better at navigating than women because men with better spatial skills are able to travel greater distances and thus, have children with more mates.

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The researchers say they gave two tribes in Africa — known for traveling great distances over the course of a year and for having “open” sexual relationships — various tests to assess their spatial abilities. They then looked for male/female differences and correlations in those differences.

“Men who did better on a spatial task not only traveled farther than other men but also had children with more women,” explains an article on the University’s website.

Also among the study’s findings? Males did better than females on a “mental rotation task” that asked them to figure out whether images of hands in various positions were right or left hands. And those who did well on the mental rotation task reported traveling further in both their lifetime and in the past year.

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“Why men should be better at mentally rotating objects is a weird thing,” anthropology professor Elizabeth Cashdan, the study’s senior author, says. “Some people think it is culturally constructed, but that doesn’t explain why the pattern is shared so broadly across human societies and even in some other species. The question is why should men get better benefits from spatial ability than women? One hypothesis, which our data support, is that males, more than females, benefit reproductively from getting more mates, and ranging farther is one way they do this.”

“Navigation ability facilitates traveling longer distances and exploring new environments,” Layne Vashro, the study’s first author and a postdoctoral researcher in anthropology, agrees. “And the farther you travel, the more likely you are to encounter new mating opportunities.”

The study is published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

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