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Riv Biol. 2002 Sep-Dec;95(3):429-53.

Dimorphic foraging behaviors and the evolution of hominid hunting.

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Center for Behavior, Evolution, and Culture and Department of Anthropology, 341 Haines Hall, Box 951553, University of California, Los Angeles-Los Angeles, CA 90095-1553, USA.


In contemporary foraging societies men typically hunt more than women. This observation has played an important role in many reconstructions of hominid evolution. The gender difference in human hunting, likely a product of both ecological and cultural factors, is mirrored by a similar sex difference among nonhuman primates. Existing explanations of such primate behavioral dimorphism are augmented by the recognition of an additional factor that may contribute to differences between males and females in the value of meat. Episodic female immunosuppression is a normal part of reproduction. Because meat is a source of pathogens, females can be expected to exhibit less constant attraction to meat. Sexual dimorphism in the attraction to meat may then contribute to dimorphic foraging specializations, a divergence that is likely augmented by the differential value of insectivory across the sexes. With the rise of cultural transmission of foraging knowledge, dimorphic foraging behaviors would have been reinforced, creating a more comprehensive gender-based division of labor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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