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Science. 2015 May 15;348(6236):796-8. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa5139.

Human behavior. Sex equality can explain the unique social structure of hunter-gatherer bands.

Author information

1
University College London (UCL) Anthropology, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW, UK. mark.dyble.12@ucl.ac.uk.
2
University College London (UCL) Anthropology, 14 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW, UK.

Abstract

The social organization of mobile hunter-gatherers has several derived features, including low within-camp relatedness and fluid meta-groups. Although these features have been proposed to have provided the selective context for the evolution of human hypercooperation and cumulative culture, how such a distinctive social system may have emerged remains unclear. We present an agent-based model suggesting that, even if all individuals in a community seek to live with as many kin as possible, within-camp relatedness is reduced if men and women have equal influence in selecting camp members. Our model closely approximates observed patterns of co-residence among Agta and Mbendjele BaYaka hunter-gatherers. Our results suggest that pair-bonding and increased sex egalitarianism in human evolutionary history may have had a transformative effect on human social organization.

PMID:
25977551
DOI:
10.1126/science.aaa5139
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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