Interactions Between the Hunter-Gatherers Communities Helped Ancient Humans Evolve

How was the medicinal plant product discovered? Researchers explain how there was a sophisticated culture in the early days of the ancient humans and even managed to simulate a map that revealed how the medicinal plant was found in the Philippines.

How they made the map possible? The experts have traced nowadays philippine hunter-gatherers’ social networks, which helped them to create the map. The study was conducted by the University of Zurich (UZH).

About 300,000 years ago, humans used to have small social networks formed of hunters and gatherers. The hunters were hunting animals, while the gatherers were gathering plants. The communities back then helped humanity to grow in knowledge by sharing it.

The small hunter-gatherer community of Agta people from the Philippines, helps researchers to see how culture developed over the time. An international team studied this particular society. The team was led by Andrea Migliano and Lucio Vinicius from the Department of Anthropology of the University of Zurich as well as Federico Battiston from the Central European University in Budapest.

Ancient humans evolved faster thanks to the interactions between the hunter-gatherers’ communities

For this study, they have put a tracking device on 53 Agta people. The tracking system showed how they interact with each other as well as other camps. That’s how they were able to create a map of the Agta’s social structure.

“It is fair to say that ‘visits between camps’ is the social media of current hunter-gatherers,” says first author Andrea Migliano, professor of anthropology at UZH. “When we need a new solution for a problem, we go online and use multiple sources to obtain information from a variety of people. Hunter-gatherers use their social network in exactly the same way.”

Based on the social structure discovered, the experts have then been able to develop a computer model that simulates the complicated cultural conception of a plant-based medicinal product. People back then have shared their knowledge of medicinal plants with other communities, which helped them combine them for better remedies. The results of the simulation show that an average of 250 to 500 interactions was needed between different camps to come out with a medicinal product.

“Our findings indicate that this social structure of small and interconnected bands may have facilitated the sequence of cultural and technological revolutions that characterizes our species as we expanded within and then out of Africa,” ends last author Lucio Vinicius, from UZH’s Department of Anthropology.

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