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Wed Jan 13, 2016, 08:37 PM

UW study upends understanding of prehistoric man


There is a long-held belief that agriculture changed everything for human beings. Agriculture meant a stable food supply, surpluses, an ability to thrive despite natural environmental changes.

But a new study, published in December in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, challenges the idea that the start of agriculture 10,000 to 12,000 years ago is responsible for boosting the human population growth rate. Radiocarbon dating analysis shows that prehistoric hunter-gatherer human populations in what is now Wyoming and Colorado grew at the same rate as farming societies in Europe.

Its pretty mind blowing, said Erick Robinson, a University of Wyoming post-doctoral researcher on the project.

Bob Kelly, professor of anthropology at the University of Wyoming, was looking at the relationship between prehistoric population sizes and climate change, using radiocarbon dating on charcoal found in prehistoric hearth sites. Scientists can use this data to estimate population growth rates for a given period of time. Previously, scientists studied population data over short time spans, like 500 years. Looking at population data is not new. What is new is the UW research team looked at growth rate across a large span of time instead of just 500 years.

http://www.wyofile.com/column/uw-study-upends-understanding-prehistoric-man/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weeklynewsletter

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Reply UW study upends understanding of prehistoric man (Original post)
gejohnston Jan 2016 OP
rug Jan 2016 #1
exboyfil Jan 2016 #2

Response to gejohnston (Original post)

Wed Jan 13, 2016, 09:57 PM

1. That's great stuff to read.

 

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Response to gejohnston (Original post)

Wed Jan 13, 2016, 10:00 PM

2. Initial conditions are not the same

Hunter gatherers in the Americas had two continents of mega fauna that had not be exposed to human predation. Of course you had a high growth rate. Animals in Africa, Europe, and Asia had been exposed to hominids on evolutionary time scales. That is why so much more mega fauna survived in those continents than in the Americas.

Hunter gatherers in general are healthier in diet. Grain is inexpensive calories but not as good as a varied hunter gatherer diet. So long as the resources can support the approach, I would take hunter gatherer over farming.

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