Data on the frequency of non-reproductive adults in a cross-cultural sample of small-scale human societies

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Cody RossMonique Borgerhoff Mulder


A number of recent accounts have described Homo sapiens as a species that practices cooperative breeding [e.g., Hill and Hurtado (2009); Hrdy (2009); Kramer (2010); Mace and Sear (2005); van Schaik and Burkart (2010)]. These claims raise two important questions: first, do humans in general, or humans under a specific set of conditions, exhibit behaviors conforming to the technical definition of cooperative breeding? And second, to what extent are patterns of behavior and reproduction in humans similar to, or distinct from those found in non-human animals that are classified as cooperative breeders? The goal of this brief communication is to report cross-cultural data with relevance to researchers studying cooperative breeding in humans in the context of other non-human mammals. The data are derived from ethnographic research in 4 small-scale human populations.

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