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New Study of Prehistoric Skeletons Undermines Claim That War Has Deep Evolutionary Roots


Science & Tech  (tags: scientists, anthropologists, human warfare, Deep Roots Theory, study of skeletons, Stone Age, forager study, Haas and Piscitelli )

Judy
- 398 days ago - blogs.scientificamerican.com
When did war begin? Does war have deep roots, or is it a modern invention? A new analysis of ancient human remains by anthropologists Jonathan Haas and Matthew Piscitelli of Chicago's Field Museum provides strong evidence for the latter view.



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Comments

Brian M. (145)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 4:42 pm
While war, as waged by humans, is a uniquely human artifact; we need only look to our nearest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee, for a similar phenomena. Chimps organize into "troops" that invade the territory of other chimp groups; violently defend their own territory; and savagely slaughter "enemy" chimps. Chimps will even use simple weapons including both rocks and tree limbs, which they wield as clubs, in order to fight their "wars."
 

Kit B. (277)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 4:56 pm

If he is correct and the majority of evidence falls in the range of 10,000 years than we do have to reconsider many past assumptions. Most evidence also shows that approximately 10,000 years ago is when we began living in communities or towns and collecting possessions. Owning things and war, interesting correlation.
 

Marlene Dinkins (231)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 4:57 pm
NOTATO GRAZIE JDY!!!!!! MOLTO INTERESANTE!!!!!!
 

Alan Lambert (90)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 7:03 pm
It does make sense. If you have nothing you have nothing to protect and nothing to steal...
 

Judy C. (106)
Thursday July 25, 2013, 12:05 am
Chimpanzees' DNA considered by most scientists to be closest to humans, as Brian says. However, the evolution of Great Apes is far more complex than that of humans, according to new research conducted by Geneticists and Conservationists. Therefore, the war-waging of chimpanzees does not necessarily generalize to humans. One would really expect chimpanzees to be more warlike than humans as a response to the environmental challenge of habitat loss.

This study in this particular article comes from a different angle, that of anthropology. Living in towns and communities, owning and protecting resources and possessions supports Kit's and Alan's point about the relatively short history of human warfare shown by the skeletons.

I think this is all pretty interesting. Thanks to all who commented.
 

Micheael Kirkbym (85)
Thursday July 25, 2013, 6:30 am
Noted
 

Gloria H. (88)
Thursday July 25, 2013, 1:24 pm
you would imagine we would have evolved. Now we have faster, more powerful ways of annihilating whoever, whatever, whenever we like.
Ants fight ants. Stealing babies, eatting other babies. Maybe viruses co exhist and fight only the host they feed on. What good does a virus or bacteria that kills the host, only to be enterned into a casket with the dead host, where it can no longer get out and thrive on new mobile hosts? Or viruses, bacteria haven't evolved to adapt to going through casket, concrete, and ground to wage survival war?
Maybe war goes on in a molecular level? Or star "absorbing" other stars..universal level of "war"?
 

Jamie Clemons (280)
Thursday July 25, 2013, 1:42 pm
Well at least for several thousand years countries have been raiding pillaging and killing each other.
 

GGmaSheila D. (163)
Thursday July 25, 2013, 2:09 pm
In even more modern times it seems there is another split to consider - those who make war without reason. No goods to steal, no homes stolen (unless you count the foreclosures of Big Banks), no maiden to save, etc. Just making war for war's sake; getting off on the burning, raping and killing - the violence of the act itself. This is happening more and more, even the warriors of the Armed Services get out of the way.

From what I see and understand there were actually two groups - nonviolent and warriors. Now the third group is made up of those from both peaceful and warlike, evolving either as an answer to the violence of today or caused by it. Can we count them as a distinctive third group?
Am I understanding this right or have I gotten lost somewhere along the way?
 

Birgit W. (144)
Thursday July 25, 2013, 2:20 pm
Noted.
 

Madhu Pillai (22)
Thursday July 25, 2013, 3:05 pm
Interesting. Regardless whether wars are modern or ancient as history itself it's what humanity can do without.
 

Nelson Baker (0)
Thursday July 25, 2013, 4:58 pm
Interesting.
 

Judy C. (106)
Thursday July 25, 2013, 9:37 pm
We have continued to evolve, but it is probably open to question whether eliminating warfare is more evolved. Some might say that it is adaptive to become more efficient at pillaging and defending one's own associates and property. A value judgment is implied in evaluating the function of warfare. Some would hope to eventually evolve to a point where war would become obsolete. I would be a proponent of that goal, but it may not be realistic. It would allow humans to conserve resources for the mutual good of mankind.Co-operation is far more sustainable than competition.

We are animals, though, and there will probably always be greedy and aggressive people. Maybe the third way GGma Shiela mentions is where evolution is heading. That type would avoid initiating aggression, but would go to war in self-defense when necessary. Societies who squander lives and too many resources on warfare die out, especially those who are foolish enough to try to maintain an empire. Does that sound like anyone we know? Thanks to all for interesting comments.
 

june t. (65)
Friday July 26, 2013, 12:31 am
thanks
 

Lona Goudswaard (68)
Friday July 26, 2013, 9:22 am
More study, and especially more skeletal findings, needed. There are few findings of skeletal remains from more than 10.000 years ago. Not finding mass graves before that time could be an indication that no warlike behaviour existed, but the lack of mass graves could also be attributed to the fact that people lived in very small groups, or that war not always ended in massive slaughter but in taking of slaves or that all the dead were simply not buried together, or simply because the graves haven't been found yet.
 

Kathleen R. (138)
Friday July 26, 2013, 1:49 pm
noted & read
 

Sergio Padilla (62)
Thursday August 1, 2013, 8:03 pm
Thanks
 
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