Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Latest on Human Self-Domestication

Perusing the abstracts for the upcoming meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, I found this paper by Jim Chatters, famous for his involvement with Kennewick Man:
Wild-Type Colonizers and High Levels of Violence among Paleoamericans

Bioarchaeological analysis of pre-9000 cal BP human remains from North America has revealed an unusually high incidence of trauma among adults. In nearly 1/3 of all skeletons of older adolescents and adults, the type and location of those injuries are consistent with interpersonal violence. Projectile injuries and depressed skull fractures are particularly common among males; rib and forearm fractures occur among females. This pattern may have been the result of natural and sexual selection for aggressive males during the colonization of the continent, selection that was reversed when females gained greater control over their food supplies during the Archaic and "domesticated" their mates.
The notion that women domesticated men is rather tendentious; all that is needed for more peaceful men to have a selective advantage is for too many of the violent sort to die in feuds. But the evidence is quite good that the first Americans, wandering a continent empty of people but full of mastodons, mammoths, ground sloths, and other big animals who had no fear of humans, were a violent lot, perhaps more violent than was sustainable in the more crowded conditions of later eras.

More on human self-domestication here.

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