22 Paleodemography of Extinct Hominin Populations

  • Janet Monge
  • Alan Mann
Reference work entry


This review is concerned with a critical evaluation of the paleodemographic studies of the hominin lineage prior to the development of agriculture. Because of the potential this research has for the generation of data about birth spacing, mortality, life span, sex ratio, patterns of fertility, and maturation, the study of the demography of earlier human populations has attracted much attention. The very limited and fragmentary sample sizes, however, combined with many uncertainties about depositional patterns have resulted in major difficulties in the development of generally accepted hypotheses. An additional problem involves the choice of comparative samples for these extinct hominins. Are the data from chimpanzees or modern humans more appropriate in these reconstructions?

Published reevaluations of a number of widely accepted concepts, such as the simple association of life history variables with structures like gross body or brain size, have made them increasingly untenable. Recently collected data on modern humans and free ranging chimpanzees cast some doubt on the idea that these two primates have different timing in their maturation and life span. Some life history parameters, however, such as potential life expectancy, time at maturation, and age at weaning, may very well be amenable to more complete understanding.


Sexual Dimorphism Modern Human Wild Chimpanzee Life History Variable Fossil Sample 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet Monge
  • Alan Mann

There are no affiliations available

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