Taking ADvantage: Endnotes for Human Cultural Evolution


Richard F. Taflinger, PhD

This page contains the footnotes for Human Cultural Evolution, a chapter in the book Taking ADvantage.

Human Cultural Evolution

2 By harmless, I mean lacking the size, speech and kiling weapons such as teeth and claws that devoted predators like lions and wolves possess.

3 Jane Goodall has observed that chimps don't scavenge for meat. They pass by dead animals, and only eat those that they kill themselves. (Leakey, 1978)

4 100 grams of venison yields 572 calories; 100 grams of most fruits and vegetables yields well under 100 calories. This six to one differential in the concentration of nourishment in meat versus vegetation made meat an extremely valuable element in the survival of earlyhumans. (White, 1973)

5 A theory on why the zebra's stripes evolved supports this idea. Although on the individual zebra the stripes are striking and obvious, making the animal quite visible, when a herd of zebras run, the constantly shifting, flickering a nd confusing patterns of stripes makes it much more difficult to discern, and thus attack, an individual animal.

6 Bear in mind that the life-spans of animals vary considerably, usually based on their size. For example, the mouse lives for months while the elephant lives for decades. Nonetheless, the relative proportion of that lifespan that the young spend in childhood is a good indicator of the animal's intelligence and social complexity.

7 Undoubtedly, the men trained the boys in male skills such as hunting, while the women trained the girls in female skills such as plant identification and child rearing. Nonetheless, the females would have given the children the basics in fitting into the society, including, as it evolved, language.

8 In fact, humans are not born capable of speech. An infant's larynx doesn't alter to the form that will allow speech for months. This means it can suckle and breathe through its nose at the same time with no fear of choking.

9 It might be argued that wars aren't fought that way, that armies depend on the group mentality. This is true to an extent. However, modern warfare that uses the group approach is just that, modern. Until about 2500 years ago, battles were basically two mobs beating on each other until one mob ran away. The Greeks, especially the Spartans, really began the group approach. The Roman army was so successful against the Gauls, Germans and Scots because the latter fought as mobs against the Roman's disciplined group approach. However, this is an artificial rather than an evolved approach. In fact, what the Greeks and Romans did was to take the male approach of independent reaction to conditions, and have many men do it at once: each Roman century (80-100 men) was simply one very powerful man with lots of arms, legs, spears and swords -- the brain was the centurion. Even today's armies depend on each soldier's independent work. A platoon has an objective, but each man, depending on what the enemy and his fellow soldiers are doing, selects his own targets, moves when he thinks right, takes initiative to achieve the objective in the most efficient, least fatal way. His training is designed to improve his ability to act this way: independent, but in concert with the other members of his team.

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