Research Article

Did Warfare Among Ancestral Hunter-Gatherers Affect the Evolution of Human Social Behaviors?

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  05 Jun 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5932, pp. 1293-1298
DOI: 10.1126/science.1168112

You are currently viewing the editor's summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

War and Peace?

Modern behavior, including the development of advanced tools, musical instruments, and art, seems to have arisen in humans in stages. The earliest hints are seen in Africa about 70 to 90,000 years ago, but later in Europe about 45,000 years ago. An ongoing discussion centers on the origins and significance of human prosociality. During early human development, could the benefits of altruistic behavior have outweighed its costs (see the Perspective by Mace)? Bowles (p. 1293) constructed a model of conflict between groups of humans and extracted estimates of the critical parameters from archaeological and ethnographic data sets. Provocatively, it appears that warfare might have enhanced the emergence and persistence of altruistic behavior. Powell et al. (p. 1298) present a population model that shows that the development of modern behaviors may rely on the attainment of critical population densities and migratory patterns required for stable cultural transmission. The model is consistent with genetic inferences of population dynamics in Africa and Europe and suggests that these cultural changes may not solely reflect increased cognitive evolution.

    View Full Text

    Stay Connected to Science