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The Evolution of Human Life History

Edited by Kristen Hawkes and Richard R. Paine

The Evolution of Human Life History2006. 524 pp., 71 black-and-white illustrations, 27 tables, 3 appendices, notes, references, index, 6 x 92006. 524 pp., 71 black-and-white illustrations, 27 tables, 3 appendices, notes, references, index, 6 x 9

Human beings may share 98 percent of their genetic makeup with their nonhuman primate cousins, but they have distinctive life histories. When and why did these uniquely human patterns evolve? To answer that question, this volume brings together specialists in hunter-gatherer behavioral ecology and demography, human growth, development, and nutrition, paleodemography, human paleontology, primatology, and the genomics of aging. The contributors identify and explain the peculiar features of human life histories, such as the rate and timing of processes that directly influence survival and reproduction. Drawing on new evidence from paleoanthropology, they question existing arguments that link humans’ extended childhood dependency and long “post-reproductive” lives to brain development, learning, and distinctively human social structures. The volume reviews alternative explanations for the distinctiveness of human life history and incorporates multiple lines of evidence in order to test them.

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Contributors: Nancy Barrickman, Meredith Bastian, Barry Bogin, Jesper Boldsen, Kristen Hawkes, Nicholas Herrmann, Nicholas Blurton Jones, Lyle Konigsberg, Elissa Krakauer, Richard Paine, Shannen Robson, Daniel Sellen, Matthew Skinner, Maria Van Noordwijk, Carel Van Shaik, Bernard Wood

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Download an excerpt (PDF, 38 KB).

Read Reviews

  • “[T]his nicely produced, well-edited book will make important impacts and should provide a wide range of scholars with solid insights into the evolution of human life histories. It will be a fine resource for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses.”
    Steven R. Leigh, American Journal of Human Biology

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