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Title: Modeling ancient cannibals as optimal foragers
Authors: Mateos Cachorro, Ana
Rodríguez, Jesús
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: International Union for Quaternary Research
Citation: 20th Congress of the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA), 2019, P-4201
Abstract: The Mid-Pleistocene Revolution (MPR) was a period of profound ecosystem reconfiguration. It is generally accepted that those environmental changes affected the survival opportunities and the distribution patterns of humans in Europe. The human responses to those environmental perturbations were likely complex and, in many respects, they are still not well understood. One way or the other, human adaptive responses imply changes in behaviour and Human Behavioural Ecology (HBE) provides a theoretical framework to approach the study of the behavioural responses of hominins. The basic premise of HBE is that human behaviour is shaped by natural selection, and its aim is to understand the patterns in behaviour by identifying the constraints that affect differences in reproductive success (O’Connell, 1995). HBE focuses on how a particular behaviour contributes to the fitness and reproductive success of the individual. The methodological approach consist in the definition of Formal Optimality Models, i.e. mathematical models which incorporate the cost and benefits of a particular behaviour in a certain environment and determine the net return of that behaviour. Although the framework of HBE may be applied to any aspect of human behaviour, in archaeology it has been mainly used to understand trophic behaviour by using Optimal Foraging Models (Wintherhalder, 1981). In this framework, Formal Optimality models may be developed to evaluate the responses of hominins to the changing environments during the MPR. These models should incorporate the availability of plant and animal resources, their characteristics, the cost of exploitation of those resources in the different environmental conditions and the requirements of hominins. Moreover, the models may also incorporate the availability of other resources (e.g. shelter or raw materials) the costs associated to their use, and the cognitive or technical capabilities of the hominin species. Resource availability may be reconstructed from the palaeontological record, but the requirements of hominins should be extrapolated from human physiology. Estimating the cost of harvesting different resources, however, requires combining information provided by the archaeological record with palaeophysiological data obtained from the extrapolation of experimental studies with in vivo subjects (Mateos et al. 2018; Prado-Nóvoa et al, 2017).
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Type: Presentation
Appears in Collections:Congresos, encuentros científicos y estancias de investigación

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