Human behavioral ecology

Humans mature slowly, although this trait appears late in human evolutionary time, appearing first among the Neanderthals. This slow maturation necessitates that adult caretakers must rear the young, even after the young are independently mobile and completely weaned. Human social complexity also mandates long periods to acquire recondite social knowledge. Consequently, much human social behavior is geared towards care, protection, and teaching of the young. Biological kin, as well as non-related individuals, engage in these care-taking behaviors.

Food acquisition and processing can be a major influence on human social organization. Relatively subtle dietary shifts may underlie significant transitions in human history. The abundance and predictability of critical food resources influences the complexity of traditional societies. Humans have the ability formally to exchange resources. Barter, trade, and economic transactions are universal. Formal marriage systems and other alliance systems promote harmony between groups. Humans use tools to eat, such as chopsticks or forks, in the same However, humans also exhibit aggression and violence. Inter- way that a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) uses a stick to gather ants. personal aggression, raiding, and warfare occur in all human (Photo by Corbis. Reproduced by permission.)

Facial expressions transcend language barriers. This Masai woman shows that she is happy by smiling. (Photo by © Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.)

Humans use different types of musical instruments to relay thoughts, emotions, and even events. (Photo by © Macduff Everton/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.)

centralized leadership vested in a chief, ranking or hierarchical division, and an artisan class. Elaborate trade networks can exist, and formalized warfare is possible.

States occur with the advent of large populations, agriculture, and the rise of urban life in cities. Cities are large, permanent aggregations of people that have multiple activity areas. Cities serve as organizational centers for a broad region. States possess a complex bureaucracy with centralized power vested in a ruling class, often a royal or noble class. The state has many nonagricultural specialists, including religious specialists for formal religion. There are central services, with a complex organization of labor, goods, and services. Complex record-keeping, culminating in the invention of writing systems, assists in facilitating these intricate activities and exchanges. Complex trade networks can occur over long distances, and monumental architecture appears.

Finally, nation-states occur with large populations, agriculture, and cities. The nation-state first emerged more than 5,000 years ago in pre-dynastic Egypt, when the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt took place. The nation-state has a broad geographic spread, and incorporates many different habitats. Multiple ethnic groups, languages, and religions exist within a nation-state. Elaborate organized warfare and conquest are possible.

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