Evolution of the Human Family: Cooperative Males, Long Social Childhoods, Smart Mothers, and Extended Kin Networks

Mark V. Flinn, Robert J. Quinlan, Kathryn Coe, Carol V. Ward

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    32 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Humans are characterized by a distinctive set of traits, including: (1) large brains, (2) long periods of juvenile dependence, (3) extensive biparental care including large transfers of information, (4) multi-generational bi-lateral kin networks, (5) habitual bipedal locomotion, (6) use of the upper limbs for tool use including projectile weapons, (7) concealed or "cryptic" ovulation, (8) menopause, (9) culture including language, and (10) lethal competition among kin-based coalitions. The evolution and co-evolution of this suite of traits presents several evolutionary questions or puzzles that are central to understanding the human family. This chapter describes these puzzles, and suggests a resolution based on the importance of social competition during human evolution. It also considers the developmental issue of how the family social environment may affect the timing of reproductive maturation and how this timing is essential to an understanding of the family.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationFamily Relationships
    Subtitle of host publicationAn Evolutionary Perspective
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISBN (Electronic)9780199786800
    ISBN (Print)9780195320510
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2007

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    Keywords

    • Biparental care
    • Concealed ovulation
    • Kin networks
    • Reproductive maturation
    • Social competition

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Psychology(all)

    Cite this

    Flinn, M. V., Quinlan, R. J., Coe, K., & Ward, C. V. (2007). Evolution of the Human Family: Cooperative Males, Long Social Childhoods, Smart Mothers, and Extended Kin Networks. In Family Relationships: An Evolutionary Perspective Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320510.003.0002