In DepthHUMAN EVOLUTION

How we tamed ourselves—and became modern

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Science  24 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6208, pp. 405-406
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6208.405

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Summary

Call a man "tame" or "domesticated" and he's not likely to take it as a compliment. But all of us, male and female, may have to get used to it: At a high-level meeting earlier this month, scientists argued that "self-domestication" was a key process in the evolution of our species. They noted that with our reduced jaws, flat faces, and lower male aggression, humans are to chimps as dogs are to wolves, showing many of the physical traits that emerge during animal domestication. The accompanying changes in behavior, especially among men, might have helped humans evolve more complex language, live atop each other in cities, and work together to create sophisticated cultures. No one set out to domesticate humans, of course. But at the first-ever symposium on self-domestication of humans, held at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, researchers outlined a set of linked behavioral and anatomical changes seen both in animals that humans have tamed and in creatures that have tamed themselves, such as bonobos.

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