Birth to Grandmotherhood: Childrearing In Human Evolution

772They are the most precious product of humanity. Like all living things, they are why, at the most fundamental level, we exist — offspring. They are why a few thousand individuals spread out of Africa so many eons ago, and why we eventually populated every habitable environment on the planet.

So this time around, CARTA, The Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny asked, what role does childrearing have in making us human?

Here is what the symposium participants considered when asking themselves that question:

From the moment of birth, human infants require an inordinate amount of care and, unlike our nearest living relatives, remain dependent on a variety of caretakers during an unusually long maturation period followed by extraordinary adult longevity. How did such a distinctive pattern of development evolve and what other human features are linked to it?

When you look at it that way, which the experts of CARTA did, it becomes clear that our childrearing had something very important to do with our evolution, and this CARTA symposium takes a deep look at this – from the hormones that modify our behaviors and guide our development, to how different caretakers over the human lifespan mold the societies that mold the individuals that will carry humanity forward.

From the very first cognitive experiences an infant has with its mother, to the influence of breastfeeding and differences in breast milk itself, to how the organization of social economies affects and is affected by childrearing roles, this series provides fascinating insights into how we may have developed those most essential traits that made us, and hopefully will keep us, human.

Watch online: CARTA: Birth to Grandmotherhood: Childrearing in Human Evolution

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