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Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association

Aspects of Early Hominid Sociality: an Evolutionary Perspective

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Abstract

Despite nominal acknowledgment, archaeologists have been slow to take advantage of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory (NDT) in the course of their research. While perhaps understandable for those working in later prehistory, where quasi-historical explanations for process can sometimes be invoked, archaeologists working in ‘deep time’ have also shown a marked reluctance to use it. This essay asks why this is so, and goes on to apply NDT concepts in an effort to reconstruct aspects of early hominid sociality. Local group size and composition, sex-based dispersal at maturity, sexual selection and mating practices, kinship, enculturation, primate cognitive abilities and the social context of learning are addressed using an eclectic approach in which non-human primate data, sociological data on modern human mating practices and human paleontology play important roles.

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