Aug 14, 2014

How cultural transmission facilitates a long juvenile learning period

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Ryan Baldini

Abstract

The evolution of the long, slow human life history is a major challenge to evolutionary biologists. A compelling theory states that our late age at maturity allows us to acquire the many skills needed to survive in the economically intensive human foraging niche. Cultural transmission may be a crucial part of this process, by exposing learners to a wealth of information and skills that they would otherwise not likely discover. I use mathematical models to show that whether cultural transmission allows a later age at maturity depends on the details of selection and population regulation. In particular, cultural transmission appears to readily allow a later age at maturity under density-dependent fertility, but may not under density-dependent mortality or density-independent population growth. I close with a discussion of possibilities for future theoretical and empirical research.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Fertility
Regulation of Biological Process
Infertility Study
Empirical Research
Laboratory Culture
Learning
Population Group
Biological Evolution

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