Hadza Men’s Follows, 1985-1986: Data and Implications for Ideas About Ancestral Male Foraging Effort in Human Evolution

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James O'Connell
Kristen Hawkes
Nicholas Blurton Jones


Paternal provisioning via big game hunting and scavenging is central to most arguments about early human evolution.  Data from East African Hadza challenge those widely held ideas.  Here we report direct observations by the Utah/UCLA research group on Hadza men’s foraging drawn from 570 hours of out-of-camp follows on focal men (FM), Sept 1985-Aug 1986, all in a setting similar in some ways to those in which early humans evolved.  Large ungulates were pursued frequently but few were acquired.  When taken, parts were consumed widely within and between local groups, with no evidence of advantages in consumption for successful hunters’ children.  FM targeted smaller, more reliably acquired prey far less often, earning total weights of about 1% of those from big game.  Nearly all were eaten by FM themselves during follows.  FM and companions also took large quantities of Apis mellifera honey in some seasons.  More than half was consumed by FM and other party members while away from camp.  Much of the rest was set aside for trade.  Both practices limited its consumption by FMs’ children.  Men’s foraging was not consistent with the goal of paternal provisioning in these data nor in our broader experience with Hadza foragers.  An alternative model of early human evolution based on life history-related changes in mating-age sex ratios, driven by senior females’ foraging productivity and its implications for ancestral males’ foraging, fits better with both our Hadza observations and the paleoanthropological record. 

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