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J Hum Evol. 1999 May;36(5):461-85.

Grandmothering and the evolution of homo erectus.

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Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.


Despite recent, compelling challenge, the evolution of Homo erectus is still commonly attributed to big game hunting and/or scavenging and family provisioning by men. Here we use a version of the "grandmother" hypothesis to develop an alternative scenario, that climate-driven adjustments in female foraging and food sharing practices, possibly involving tubers, favored significant changes in ancestral life history, morphology, and ecology leading to the appearance, spread and persistence of H. erectus. Available paleoclimatic, environmental, fossil and archaeological data are consistent with this proposition; avenues for further critical research are readily identified. This argument has important implications for widely-held ideas about the recent evolution of long human lifespans, the prevalence of male philopatry among ancestral hominids, and the catalytic role of big game hunting and scavenging in early human evolution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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