Kim Hill is a Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and the Institute for Human Origins at Arizona State University. His research focuses on the evolutionary cultural ecology of hunter-gatherer populations, with particular emphasis on foraging, food sharing, life history, and cooperation. He has spent 143 months doing fieldwork in lowland South America since 1977.
The emergence of human uniqueness: Characters underlying behavioral modernity
Article first published online: 26 OCT 2009
Copyright © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews
Special Issue: The Evolution of Human Behavior
Volume 18, Issue 5, pages 187–200, September/October 2009
How to Cite
Hill, K., Barton, M. and Hurtado, A. M. (2009), The emergence of human uniqueness: Characters underlying behavioral modernity. Evol. Anthropol., 18: 187–200. doi: 10.1002/evan.20224
- Issue published online: 26 OCT 2009
- Article first published online: 26 OCT 2009
Although scientists are aware that humans share the same biological heritage as do all other organisms on the planet, the reliance of Homo sapiens on culture and cooperation has resulted in what can best be described as “a spectacular evolutionary anomaly.”1:11 The extra-somatic adaptations, technological dominance, and success of our species in colonizing every terrestrial habitat have no parallel.2 Moreover, Homo sapiens accounts for about eight times as much biomass as do all other terrestrial wild vertebrates combined,3 an amount equivalent to the biomass of all 14,000+ species of ants,4 the most successful terrestrial invertebrates. Human societies are complex, with more specialized economic niches in the United States than the total number of mammalian species on the planet.5 While some might suggest that only post-industrial humans achieved stunning biological success, data suggest that humans living as hunter-gatherers would have attained a world population of more than 70 million individuals6 and a total biomass greater than that of any other large vertebrate on the planet if agriculture had not been repeatedly invented as they spread.