PDF release pending
ERIC Number: ED186792
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-Nov-28
Reference Count: 0
The Evolution of Human Longevity: Toward a Biocultural Theory.
Mayer, Peter J.
Homo sapiens is the only extant species for which there exists a significant post-reproductive period in the normal lifespan. Explanations for the evolution of this species-specific trait are possible through "non-deterministic" theories of aging positing "wear and tear" or the failure of nature to eliminate imperfection, or "deterministic" theories which explain longevity as the by-product of selection for some other features such as general constitutional "fitness" or optimal life-history strategy. All of these hypotheses, however, fail to propose a positive selective force which could have acted to favor longevity in evolving hominid populations. Consideration of the evolutionary advantages of long life suggests a model of how selection for longevity could have effected a positive feedback loop between inclusive fitness and social support networks, representing the central biological and sociocultural components of a biocultural theory. Results of preliminary testing of this theory, using data from New England family genealogies, suggest validity for this approach. (Author)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - General; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting o