Evolutionary History of the “Cultured Ape” Patterns and Implications What Do We Mean By “Culture”? Wilson: Culture is socially-learned complex behavior. Pinker: Culture is learned behaviors and beliefs; shared arbitrary practices, conventions, symbols, meanings; “accumulated technological and social innovations”. Boesch: Culture is socially-transmitted, learned behavior; distinctive collective practice; shared symbolic system or system of meaning. Human Culture: A Minimal Checklist Technology-dependent adaptations; Home bases; Advance planning (facilitated by language); Social divisions of labor; Cognitive “domain-crossing.” Use of artificial, created identities that don’t exist in nature, represented by material objects; Burial of the dead; Distinctive art/iconography reflecting esoteric beliefs. Why Bother with Cultured Ape Origins? • Gain Enlightenment: “Deep History” of Humankind. • Evaluate claims of Evolutionary Psychology & Other “sciences of human nature.” • Most important: Detect BS: “Culture War” assertions about human nature. Concepts of Evolutionary History to Reject: The March [or Ladder] of Progress Why the Image Persists: Complicity of Scholars and Publishers… …and Popular Culture… …and the Advertising Industry …and Social Commentators and Cartoonists: Darwin’s Tree Darwin’s Theory of Change Variation Overpopulation “Struggle” for Survival Natural Selection (of “Fittest”) Inheritance of Favorable Variations Change (“Descent with Modification”) Diversification and Decimation Major Themes in Human Biocultural Evolution Diversification: Multiple, co-existing species and trajectories. Decimation: Extinction. Contingency: Historical circumstances matter. Brevity: Modern humans are a very young species. Co-evolution: Biology and culture interact with each other. Where We Find Fossils Today Olduvai Gorge Lake Turkana These environments are largely irrelevant to the story… …as are the environments of contemporary African hunting and gathering peoples. Ancestral Environment: “Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness” (EEA) Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness The EEA is not a specific time or place. Rather, it is a composite reconstruction, based on real data, about the total set of natural selection pressures faced by an organism’s ancestors: pressures related to food acquisition, predator avoidance, mating requirements, offspring care, and other survival challenges. Evolutionary psychology proposes that a majority of human psychological mechanisms are adapted to survival challenges frequently encountered in the EEA. Behavioral Correlates of the EEA Low Population Density Small, Nomadic, Kin-based groups Simple technology Gatherer/Scavenger/”Hunter” Subsistence “Altricial” young (parent dependent) High infant mortality Vulnerability to predators, disease Culture???? Evolutionary Psychology seeks to understand how natural selection in the ancestral EEA, working on a generalized forest ape population, shaped the “epigenetic rules” that continue to constrain (not determine!) human behavior.