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Unformatted text preview: many more of them
to live to older age. But there can be no doubt that this increased
adult survivorship itself had far-reaching effects. As Kristen
Hawkes of the University of Utah, Hillard Kaplan of the University of New Mexico and others have shown in their studies of
several modern-day hunter-gatherer groups, grandparents routinely contribute economic and social resources to their descendants, increasing both the number of offspring their children
can have and the survivorship of their grandchildren. Grandparents also reinforce complex social connections—like my
grandmother did in telling stories of ancestors that linked me to
other relatives in my generation. Such information is the foundation on which human social organization is built.
Elders transmit other kinds of cultural knowledge, too—
from environmental (what kinds of plants are poisonous or
where to find water during times of drought, for example) to
technological (how to weave a basket or knap a stone knife, per- haps). Studies led by Pontus Strimling of Stockholm University
have shown that repetition is a critical factor in the transmission...
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- Spring '12