Growth rates and life histories in twenty-two small-scale societies

Robert Walker, Michael Gurven, Kim Hill, Andrea Migliano, Napoleon Chagnon, Roberta De Souza, Gradimir Djurovic, Raymond Hames, A. Magdalena Hurtado, Hillard Kaplan, Karen Kramer, William J. Oliver, Claudia Valeggia, Taro Yamauchi

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251 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study investigates variation in body growth (cross-sectional height and weight velocity) among a sample of 22 small-scale societies. Considerable variation in growth exists among hunter-gatherers that overlaps heavily with growth trajectories present in groups focusing more on horticulture. Intergroup variation tends to track environmental conditions, with societies under more favorable conditions displaying faster growth and earlier puberty. In addition, faster/earlier development in females is correlated with higher mortality. For example, African "Pygmies," Philippine "Negritos," and the Hiwi of Venezuela are characterized by relatively fast child-juvenile growth for their adult body size (used as a proxy for energetic availability). In these societies, subadult survival is low, and puberty, menarche, and first reproduction are relatively early (given their adult body size), suggesting selective pressure for accelerated development in the face of higher mortality. In sum, the origin and maintenance of different human ontogenies may quire explanations invoking both environmental constraints and selective pressures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-311
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics

Cite this

Walker, R., Gurven, M., Hill, K., Migliano, A., Chagnon, N., De Souza, R., Djurovic, G., Hames, R., Hurtado, A. M., Kaplan, H., Kramer, K., Oliver, W. J., Valeggia, C., & Yamauchi, T. (2006). Growth rates and life histories in twenty-two small-scale societies. American Journal of Human Biology, 18(3), 295-311. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajhb.20510