Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Social Interactions May Be Traced Back To Carnivorous Behavior

Date:
February 20, 2002
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
It's little more than a dinner choice for most people, but meat - and the cooperation involved in getting it - may be the foundation for modern-day social interactions says a Texas A&M University anthropologist.

COLLEGE STATION, February 19, 2002 - It's little more than a dinner choice for most people, but meat - and the cooperation involved in getting it - may be the foundation for modern-day social interactions says a Texas A&M University anthropologist.

Michael Alvard, a socio-cultural anthropologist who uses evolutionary theory to learn about human behavior, says the hunting and scavenging for meat, by humans, that developed perhaps as early as two million years ago, may have been a trigger for human mental abilities to evolve.

"Many important aspects of human nature revolve around solving problems related to the cooperative acquisition, defense and distribution of hunted resources," Alvard says.

The mental skills required for cooperative hunting developed as responses to associated problems as well as to the need for accounting for distribution and consumption, he adds.

In other words, the development of big game hunting, forced our ancestors to refine concepts such as cooperation, cheating, and accounting for who got what - all concepts that would be unknown to the solitary scavenger.

Whether or not it was the original reason for the evolution of sociality, Alvard says that cooperative hunting and meat sharing opened a niche that was unavailable to the solitary forager.

Meat was of high value because it was rare, difficult and dangerous to obtain, existed only in short-term quantities and often required cooperation to obtain it, Alvard notes.

Early humans, he explains, soon learned that hunting large game by themselves was unsuccessful, so they banded together to achieve their goals. In this sense, the concept of cooperation was being learned and developed by these people.

Not only were early social concepts being developed during the hunt, but social complexity reached new levels after the hunt was over.

"Distribution was the second issue these people had to tackle," Alvard says. "Those involved in the hunt had to obtain a satisfactory payoff from the carcass to ensure cooperation would continue in the long term."

In accounting for distribution of the meat and consumption of it, these people had to identify the concept of cheating and find ways to make sure it couldn't take place, he says.

Alvard, who is researching similar cooperative patterns in Indonesian whale hunters, says these early cooperative efforts resembled mutualism - a form of cooperation where the payoffs for working together are immediate and are far greater than for working alone.

In his research with the whale hunters, he has analyzed their behavior against several types of game theory models - models that attempt to explain how organisms make decisions when these decisions depend on what others do. He has drawn similarities in their cooperative interactions and those of early big game hunters.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "Social Interactions May Be Traced Back To Carnivorous Behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 February 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020220074932.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2002, February 20). Social Interactions May Be Traced Back To Carnivorous Behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020220074932.htm
Texas A&M University. "Social Interactions May Be Traced Back To Carnivorous Behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/02/020220074932.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins