The life history of human foraging: Cross-cultural and individual variation

Jeremy Koster*, Richard McElreath, Kim Hill, Douglas Yu, Glenn Shepard, Nathalie Van Vliet, Michael Gurven, Benjamin Trumble, Rebecca Bliege Bird, Douglas Bird, Brian Codding, Lauren Coad, Luis Pacheco-Cobos, Bruce Winterhalder, Karen Lupo, Dave Schmitt, Paul Sillitoe, Margaret Franzen, Michael Alvard, Vivek VenkataramanThomas Kraft, Kirk Endicott, Stephen Beckerman, Stuart A. Marks, Thomas Headland, Margaretha Pangau-Adam, Anders Siren, Karen Kramer, Russell Greaves, Victoria Reyes-García, Maximilien Guèze, Romain Duda, Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares, Sandrine Gallois, Lucentezza Napitupulu, Roy Ellen, John Ziker, Martin R. Nielsen, Elspeth Ready, Christopher Healey, Cody Ross

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    44 Citations (Scopus)


    Human adaptation depends on the integration of slow life history, complex production skills, and extensive sociality. Refining and testing models of the evolution of human life history and cultural learning benefit from increasingly accurate measurement of knowledge, skills, and rates of production with age. We pursue this goal by inferring hunters’ increases and declines of skill from approximately 23,000 hunting records generated by more than 1800 individuals at 40 locations. The data reveal an average age of peak productivity between 30 and 35 years of age, although high skill is maintained throughout much of adulthood. In addition, there is substantial variation both among individuals and sites. Within study sites, variation among individuals depends more on heterogeneity in rates of decline than in rates of increase. This analysis sharpens questions about the coevolution of human life history and cultural adaptation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbereaax9070
    JournalScience advances
    Issue number26
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


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