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 September 19, 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 September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
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