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Family RelationshipsAn Evolutionary Perspective$
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Catherine A. Salmon and Todd K. Shackelford

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195320510

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320510.001.0001

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Evolution of the Human Family: Cooperative Males, Long Social Childhoods, Smart Mothers, and Extended Kin Networks

Evolution of the Human Family: Cooperative Males, Long Social Childhoods, Smart Mothers, and Extended Kin Networks

Chapter:
(p.16) 2 Evolution of the Human Family: Cooperative Males, Long Social Childhoods, Smart Mothers, and Extended Kin Networks
Source:
Family Relationships
Author(s):

Mark V. Flinn

Robert J. Quinlan

Kathryn Coe

Carol V. Ward

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320510.003.0002

Humans are characterized by a distinctive set of traits, including: (1) large brains, (2) long periods of juvenile dependence, (3) extensive biparental care including large transfers of information, (4) multi-generational bi-lateral kin networks, (5) habitual bipedal locomotion, (6) use of the upper limbs for tool use including projectile weapons, (7) concealed or “cryptic” ovulation, (8) menopause, (9) culture including language, and (10) lethal competition among kin-based coalitions. The evolution and co-evolution of this suite of traits presents several evolutionary questions or puzzles that are central to understanding the human family. This chapter describes these puzzles, and suggests a resolution based on the importance of social competition during human evolution. It also considers the developmental issue of how the family social environment may affect the timing of reproductive maturation and how this timing is essential to an understanding of the family.

Keywords:   biparental care, kin networks, concealed ovulation, social competition, reproductive maturation

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