The importance of human milk in evolution and modern health; biology and race in Ferguson; and the latest research on Cahokia Mounds will be among the presentation topics as three major human biology and anthropology professional groups converge in St. Louis for their annual scientific meetings March 24-28.
You wouldn’t know it by current world events, but humans actually evolved to be peaceful, cooperative and social animals. In a new book, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis goes against the prevailing view and argues that primates, including early humans, evolved not as hunters but as prey of many predators, including wild dogs and cats, hyenas, eagles and crocodiles. Despite popular theories posed in research papers and popular literature, early man was not an aggressive killer, argues Robert W. Sussman, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences.
Some species still prey on humans to this day.Early man was more wary than war-like, more intelligent, agile, and cooperative than aggressive, predator or killer, and he co-evolved as the prey of many species. Moreover, in the old days, woman wore the pants in the family and men were basically expendable, not the brightest bulbs on the tree when it came to tools, and functioning best as sentinels wary of predators in edge environments between the forest and savannah. Those are the primary themes of a new book, “Man the Hunted: Primates, Predators and Human Evolution”, co-authored by Robert W. Sussman, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences.
Are humans inherently good? The prevailing view in popular and scientific literature is that humans and animals are genetically driven to compete for survival, thus making all social interaction inherently selfish. According to this line of reasoning, known as sociobiology, even seemingly unselfish acts of altruism merely represent a species’ strategy to survive and preserve its genes. But Robert W. Sussman, Ph.D., a professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, argues that this is a narrow and simplistic view of evolutionary theory that fails to explain many aspects of sociality among mammals in general and primates in particular. In “The Origins and Nature of Sociality,” a new book Sussman co-edited, he and other researchers challenge the proponents of sociobiology. “The ‘selfish gene’ hypothesis is inadequate,” Sussman says.