Constraints of knowing or constraints of growing? Fishing and collecting by the children of Mer

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Abstract

Recent theoretical models suggest that the difference between human and nonhuman primate life-history patterns may be due to a reliance on complex foraging strategies requiring extensive learning. These models predict that children should reach adult levels of efficiency faster when foraging is cognitively simple. We test this prediction with data on Meriam fishing, spearfishing, and shellfishing efficiency. For fishing and spearfishing, which are cognitively difficult, we can find no significant amount of variability in return rates because of experiential factors correlated with age. However, for shellfish collecting, which is relatively easy to learn, there are strong age-related effects on efficiency. Children reach adult efficiency more quickly in fishing as compared to shellfish collecting, probably owing to the size and strength constraints of the latter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-267
Number of pages29
JournalHuman Nature
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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