Do Grandmothers Hold The Key To Human Evolution?

Few are aware that Charles Darwin, who fathered the idea of ‘survival of the fittest‘, also suggested that cooperation and creativity are the foundation for long-term survival and evolution.

In the long history of humankind (and animal-kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.

Charles Darwin

Interesting new research is adding evidence to that theory.

Kristen Hawkes, an anthropologist at University of Utah, studies modern hunter gathers in hopes of gaining insight into how our earliest ancestors may have lived. Her work with the Hadza of Northern Tanzania reveals that not only does the food gathered by the women of the tribe account for a larger portion of daily calories, but that helpful grandmothers make crucial contributions to the gathering.

This doesn’t mean that the calories contributed by hunters is unimportant. But, it does suggest that some of our most humane skills – cooperation, empathy, considering the thoughts and feelings of others – likely arose through this intergenerational gathering activity. And, it’s these qualities that likely kept tribal warfare to a minimum.

Which brings us back to Darwin’s quote. Kristen Hawkes believes that sharing and cooperation means more food, less war for the Hudza tribe, and maybe our ancestors. Darwin’s collaborative theory of evolution makes a little more sense now, doesn’t it?

Find more at NPR/All Things Considered

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