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Teeth Show How Society Was Shaped By Old Age
The Telegraph (UK) ^ | 6-7-2004 | Roger Highfield

Posted on 07/05/2004 6:26:07 PM PDT by blam

Teeth show how society was shaped by old age

By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
(Filed: 06/07/2004)

The lifespan of our ancestors made a dramatic leap 32,000 years ago, allowing people to grow older and wiser, according to a study of hundreds of ancient teeth that is published today.

The wear on the teeth suggest that longevity more than quadrupled at that time, a jump that may have been the key factor that shaped modern civilisation. Before then lifespan had increased only steadily.

Lifespan extended dramatically in the early Upper Palaeolithic Period, around 30,000bc, when Homo sapiens - modern man - was becoming established in Europe. The American team believes there had to be a distinct evolutionary advantage to large numbers of people growing older, which in turn enabled still more of our ancestors to live longer.

Despite more disease and disability, longer survival would have increased the number of years to have children and encouraged social relationships and kinship bonds.

And it would have encouraged the passing of information from old and experienced individuals to younger generations, the "grandmother hypothesis"- grandmothers are useful because of the knowledge they hand on to their reproductive-age daughters, and their daughters' children.

Together, these factors could have promoted the expansion of populations, creating social pressures that led to the growth of trade networks, increased mobility, and more complex systems of co-operation and competition.

One of the authors, anthropologist Dr Rachel Caspari, from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, said: "There has been a lot of speculation about what gave modern humans their evolutionary advantage. This research provides a simple explanation for which there is now concrete evidence: modern humans were older and wiser.

"It is easier to study the consequences than it is to speculate about the causes," she said. However, she believes the surge in numbers "may reflect a positive feedback process, where small increases led to advantages that precipitated bigger increases".

The findings, published today by Dr Caspari and Dr Sang-Hee Lee in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, were based on a comparison of more than 750 tooth fossils from successive time periods.

In the study, they defined "old" to be at least double the age of reproductive maturation, which is also the time when the third molars typically erupt. Thus, even if the age of reproductive maturation varied, if it were 15, then age 30 would be the age at which one could theoretically first become a grandmother.

The specimens examined came from later australopithecines - a primitive, ape-like human - early and middle Pleistocene era Homo species, Neanderthals from Europe and Asia, and post-Neanderthal Early Upper Palaeolithic Europeans.

By calculating the ratio of old-to-young individuals in the samples, the scientists found that the number of surviving older people increased throughout human evolution.

Their numbers soared up to fivefold in the Upper Palaeolithic group, a leap that was so surprising that the team at first questioned its own results.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: age; anthropology; archaeology; crevolist; economic; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; old; shaped; show; society; teeth

1 posted on 07/05/2004 6:26:08 PM PDT by blam
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To: FairOpinion

GGG Ping.


2 posted on 07/05/2004 6:26:51 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam

Another good one. Thanks!


3 posted on 07/05/2004 6:33:14 PM PDT by Coyoteman (I'm an archaeologist; I work for a living!)
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To: *Gods, Graves, Glyphs; A.J.Armitage; abner; adam_az; AdmSmith; Alas Babylon!; blam; NukeMan; ...
"The lifespan of our ancestors made a dramatic leap 32,000 years ago, allowing people to grow older and wiser, according to a study of hundreds of ancient teeth that is published today.

The wear on the teeth suggest that longevity more than quadrupled at that time, a jump that may have been the key factor that shaped modern civilisation. Before then lifespan had increased only steadily."

PING

This is a "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" -- Archeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc. PING list.

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4 posted on 07/05/2004 6:40:46 PM PDT by FairOpinion (If you are not voting for Bush, you are voting for the terrorists.)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee
Lifespan extended dramatically in the early Upper Palaeolithic Period, around 30,000bc, when Homo sapiens - modern man - was becoming established in Europe. The American team believes there had to be a distinct evolutionary advantage to large numbers of people growing older, which in turn enabled still more of our ancestors to live longer.

Knowing absolutely nothing whatsoever about paleoanthropology, how much d'ya wanna bet this was precisely the point at which early man harnassed fire?

Other candidates might be: Discovered seed-based plant agriculture, discovered husbandry-based animal agriculture, discovered spoken language, discovered the idea of rudimentary written notations, discovered the spear [probably just a tad early for bows and arrows],...

Or maybe was privy to a little divine intervention?

5 posted on 07/05/2004 6:42:02 PM PDT by SlickWillard
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To: SlickWillard

I see gender bias in this article. It mentions the influence of older WOMEN on society...but fails to mention the men! (Guess the brutes were too busy hunting bison to pass on knowledge at the hearth???)


6 posted on 07/05/2004 6:47:25 PM PDT by Ciexyz ("FR, best viewed with a budgie on hand")
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To: SlickWillard
" Discovered seed-based plant agriculture, discovered husbandry-based animal agriculture."

These (IMO) are the most likely, they already had all the others.

7 posted on 07/05/2004 6:50:43 PM PDT by blam
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To: Ciexyz
I see gender bias in this article. It mentions the influence of older WOMEN on society...but fails to mention the men!

They're just making a value judgement that teaching young mothers how to raise children is more important than teaching sons how to hunt and light their farts on fire.

8 posted on 07/05/2004 6:51:04 PM PDT by KarlInOhio (If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Warm & sour lemonade because life didn't give ice & sugar.)
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To: Ciexyz; KarlInOhio
It mentions the influence of older WOMEN on society...but fails to mention the men!

Precisely chipping flint into arrowhead and spear points, the applied geology of how to find likely sources for flint, fire-starting techniques, the vagueries of animal migrations, how to tell when to expect the next salmon run, how to tell when some huge horned critter is about to charge -- all these branches of knowledge are insignificant compared to the proper way to burp a kid. </sarcasm>

Plus, having a few older guys around to protect the camp while they make more spearpoints and arrowheads would have been useful in reducing infant mortality (as well as women-mortality)

9 posted on 07/05/2004 7:04:43 PM PDT by SauronOfMordor (That which does not kill me had better be able to run away damn fast.)
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To: blam
Great find. Article mentions that it's difficult to speculate on the causes for the longevity jump, but my money is on a great advancement in communication. Yea, they already had a primitive language, but I propose that this was the time when it became more structured. No matter what other innovations were put forth at this time, without the ability to communicate these ideas, they would have been limited in scope.
10 posted on 07/05/2004 7:07:42 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: blam
The wear on the teeth suggest that longevity more than quadrupled at that time...

Absolute nonsense. If the average life span had been 25 years, a figure which seems to be way too low, according to the authors the average longevity would then have jumped up to 100.

11 posted on 07/05/2004 7:09:27 PM PDT by curmudgeonII
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To: PatrickHenry

Anthropology ping!


12 posted on 07/05/2004 7:09:43 PM PDT by balrog666 (A public service post.)
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To: curmudgeonII
Absolute nonsense. If the average life span had been 25 years, a figure which seems to be way too low, according to the authors the average longevity would then have jumped up to 100.

No, the incidence of longevity quadrupled, not the average lifespan.
13 posted on 07/05/2004 7:20:37 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: Dysart
The American team believes there had to be a distinct evolutionary advantage to large numbers of people growing older, which in turn enabled still more of our ancestors to live longer.
14 posted on 07/05/2004 8:03:26 PM PDT by Dysart
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To: blam
By calculating the ratio of old-to-young individuals in the samples, the scientists found that the number of surviving older people increased throughout human evolution.

And the sample is how many?

15 posted on 07/05/2004 8:07:44 PM PDT by Lester Moore (Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of All)
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To: blam
.....or did they learn to stone-grind foods and grain and thereby consume more abrasive particles, accelerating tooth wear........... ......or did the older generations start worrying about the younger's behavior and future...and grind their teeth as they slept..... ....or..
16 posted on 07/05/2004 9:00:45 PM PDT by PoorMuttly ("BE Reagan !")
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To: Lester Moore
And the sample is how many?

That information is restricted to the small, privileged subset of people who read the article. :-)

The findings, published today by Dr Caspari and Dr Sang-Hee Lee in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, were based on a comparison of more than 750 tooth fossils from successive time periods.

17 posted on 07/05/2004 10:53:16 PM PDT by jennyp (http://crevo.bestmessageboard.com)
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To: Dysart
... but my money is on a great advancement in communication.

Agree. Probably the start of story-telling or the narrative how-to-survive because this is how grand-pa did it.

18 posted on 07/05/2004 11:53:33 PM PDT by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: FairOpinion
Thank you so much for picking up Farmfriend's ping but is she O.K.? Why did she leave? Please tell her we'll miss her and thank her for her trouble She was always the ping I enjoyed the most.

In todays society, grandparents are usually not close by. I for one, don't think this is a good idea in the long run. Wonder how it will effect us.

I spent pretty much every weekend with my grandparents when I was a kid. It was a hoot. My kids don't get to have that. I feel bad for them.

Elders, no matter what sex, always benefit society. Even though we now have books and the internet to relay stories to us, it can no way compare to your Grandpa explaining the Russian revolution to you while you are on his knee. That was priceless and shaped me forever.

19 posted on 07/06/2004 1:02:11 AM PDT by lizma
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To: PatrickHenry; Junior; longshadow; jennyp

Crevo implications ping.


20 posted on 07/06/2004 7:03:34 AM PDT by VadeRetro (You don't just bat those big liquid eyes and I start noticing how lovely you are. Hah!)
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To: VadeRetro; Junior; *crevo_list

Minimal, really. But Junior likes pings for the archives.


21 posted on 07/06/2004 7:21:25 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Hic amor, haec patria est.)
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To: SlickWillard
Or maybe was privy to a little divine intervention

Or found the obelisk?


22 posted on 07/06/2004 7:42:09 AM PDT by ASA Vet (tourette's syndrome is just a $&#$*!% excuse for bad *%$#**& language skills.)
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To: SlickWillard
Or maybe was privy to a little divine intervention?

Nahhh. It was the beads.


23 posted on 07/06/2004 11:16:04 AM PDT by AndrewC (I am a Bertrand Russell agnostic, even an atheist.</sarcasm>)
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To: PatrickHenry

'Preciates it.


24 posted on 07/06/2004 2:22:40 PM PDT by Junior (FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC)
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To: jennyp
My eyes saw but my mind did not perceive. Thanks.

I suspected a rather small sample and 750 tooth fossils from successive time periods is small.

25 posted on 07/06/2004 7:04:45 PM PDT by Lester Moore (Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of All)
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To: blam

Society's still being shaped by old age. The older I get the more my "society" changes.

:-p


26 posted on 01/08/2006 12:58:17 AM PST by bannie (The government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.)
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Just updating the GGG information, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
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27 posted on 08/09/2006 10:50:58 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (updated my FR profile on Thursday, August 10, 2006. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: blam

· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic · subscribe ·

 
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Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.

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28 posted on 01/03/2010 10:03:07 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Happy New Year!)
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To: blam
And it would have encouraged the passing of information from old and experienced individuals to younger generations, the "grandmother hypothesis"- grandmothers are useful because of the knowledge they hand on to their reproductive-age daughters, and their daughters' children.

The Barakamites see no value to the elderly! Throw'em under the bus!!!

29 posted on 05/19/2010 3:43:43 PM PDT by night reader (NRA Life Member since 1962)
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To: curmudgeonII
Absolute nonsense. If the average life span had been 25 years, a figure which seems to be way too low, according to the authors the average longevity would then have jumped up to 100.

Yes, it seems unlikely to me too. I'm going to guess that what they meant to say was that the percentage of humans who lived to be old enough to be grandparents quadrupled (from some presumably small number).

30 posted on 05/19/2010 3:50:03 PM PDT by PapaBear3625 (Public healthcare looks like it will work as well as public housing did.)
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To: night reader

I posted this article six years ago.


31 posted on 05/19/2010 4:29:37 PM PDT by blam
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