1932

Abstract

Humans have a prolonged childhood, which begins with an immature developmental state at birth. We take care of these helpless infants through a variety of cultural adaptations, including material culture, provisioning of food, and shared child care. Our species has long been characterized as having secondary altriciality, but an examination of human life history shows that we are fundamentally precocial, despite seeming helpless at birth. Human babies are also relatively large and overall require substantial attention and energy from caregivers. Previous work has focused on how culture permits us to give birth to helpless young and how our cultural adaptation solves problems stemming from encephalization. The birth of these dependent, costly creatures poses challenges but also creates opportunities by enhancing the development of social and emotional relationships with caregivers as well as language acquisition and enculturation.

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2021-10-21
2024-06-18
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