Mother and child

Mother and child
Karen Kramer, an associate professor of anthropology, published a study in the Journal of Human Evolution titled, ‘When Mothers Need Others: Life History Transitions Associated with the Evolution of Cooperative Breeding.’ Her research examines how mothers underwent a remarkable transition from the past – when they had one dependent offspring at a time, ended support of their young at weaning and received no help from others — to the present, when mothers often have multiple kids who help rear other children. In this photo, a Pumé hunter-gatherer woman both cares for her young child and cooks a meal for her older children. Kramer has worked with the Pumé in Venezuela since 2005. Credit: Karen Kramer

Hillary Clinton once famously said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It turns out that’s been true for centuries: New research by a University of Utah anthropologist explains how and why mothers in ancient societies formed cooperative groups to help raise their children. Karen Kramer, an associate professor of anthropology, published a study in the Journal of Human Evolution titled, ‘When Mothers Need Others: Life History Transitions Associated with the Evolution of Cooperative Breeding.’ Her research examines how mothers underwent a remarkable transition from the past – when they had one dependent offspring at a time, ended support of their young at weaning and received no help from others — to the present, when mothers often have multiple kids who help rear other children…
This suggests that early human families may have formed around cooperating groups of mothers and children.”
Her findings are departure from earlier hypotheses by other anthropologists. Most hypotheses about who helped mothers in ancient societies point to other adults. Kramer’s study, however, found that it is a mother’s own children who were the most reliable as helpers…
“Human mothers are interesting. They’re unlike mothers of many other species because they feed their children after weaning and others help them raise their children. As an anthropologist, I live and work in traditional societies where, like other researchers, I have observed many times that it takes a village to raise a child. Not only do mothers work hard to care for their young, but so do her older children, grandmothers, fathers and other relatives. But this wasn’t always the case,” Kramer said.
“Deep in the past, mothers likely received no help and consequently had much lower rates of fertility and lost many children. So we have to ask, why do others cooperate with mothers and help them raise their children? This is an important question because you could do many other things with your time beside help someone else raise their children.” …

Study explores the moment when ancient societies began to ‘take a village to raise a child. (2015, May 8)
https://phys.org/news/2015-05-explores-moment-ancient-societies-began.html

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