Hrdy estimates that cooperative upbringing began
at the beginning of the Pleistocene epoch (about 1.8 million years ago) when the African Homo erectus appeared. The author drew this conclusion from the relatively small difference in size between the sexes compared to the much older Australopithecines.
The male Homo erectus were
only 18 percent larger than the females. This degree of sexual dimorphism is only slightly more pronounced than in modern humans. (p. 384)
plausible interpretation of Blaffer Hrdy would mean that the hominids were
looking after their young together long before Homo sapiens. Therefore, the use
of human communication by the helpers and thus the whole group of Homo sapiens
is very plausible.
van Schaik and Karin Isler also emphasise the importance of the helpers in
caring for the young:
In most mammal species, the mother is on her own during the strenuous gestation and nursing periods, so any help will save the mother energy.
No mammal on Earth has produced young that take longer to mature or depend on the support of so many others than Pleistocene humans.
With the help of alloparents and parents, these offspring – incredibly costly and equipped with large brains – slowly grew up and enough survived to produce a population capable of penetrating into new habitats, raising children there, spreading further, and eventually populating the entire planet.
Nourished not only by their mothers but also by other members of the group, even descendants who were weaned long before they could care for themselves could slowly grow up without suffering hunger.
(German: Sarah Blaffer Hrdy 2010: Mütter und andere, Berlin, p. 377)
of the longer childhood and adolescence, the raising of the young has become
extremely expensive for humans and their forerunners. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, the originator
of the quote, has dealt with the prolonged course of human life and its
Once the intentional communication and cooperation between the mother and the infant are established in a social group, all individuals go through this phase as infants and all female individuals experience it from the maternal side.
the mothers, as has been observed in various cases, would otherwise be
overwhelmed with the task of raising the children alone, fathers, grandmothers,
older siblings and other relatives also take on the responsibility of looking
after and caring for the offspring.
individuals will also use the new intentional communication they have
experienced and which the infant demands from them when they communicate with
the new form of communication does provide advantages, adolescents and then
later adults will playfully make use of intentional communication and
cooperation. This is how the new form of communication will become established
in the social group.
end of brain growth when Homo sapiens appeared
about 250,000 years ago has nothing to do with the fact that the brain, unlike the earlier hominid brains, would have been perfect (Mayr). I also consider the idea of a seamless transition from genetic adaptation to cultural tradition (Habermas) to be an unacceptable simplification,
that does not take sufficient account of the change of era at the end of the
growth in size of the human brain. Here further intermediate steps, which make
this type of development plausible, are mentally necessary and are still to be
prolongation of brain growth into the first year after birth makes the human
brain even more expensive and leads to the problem of who can afford the costs.
mother alone probably cannot afford the increased costs; further helpers are
required. If we assume pair bonding and family structures, the father and other
family members, such as older siblings, can be considered additional helpers.