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Thread: Ancient Humans Avoided Incest

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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Ancient Humans Avoided Incest



    Since they obviously did not know the science of human reproduction, this must have been motivated by a desire for stable families and communities.

    Early humans seem to have recognized the dangers of inbreeding at least 34,000 years ago, and developed surprisingly sophisticated social and mating networks to avoid it, new research has found.

    The study, reported in the journal Science, examined genetic information from the remains of anatomically modern humans who lived during the Upper Paleolithic, a period when modern humans from Africa first colonized western Eurasia. The results suggest that people deliberately sought partners beyond their immediate family, and that they were probably connected to a wider network of groups from within which mates were chosen, in order to avoid becoming inbred.

    This suggests that our distant ancestors are likely to have been aware of the dangers of inbreeding, and purposely avoided it at a surprisingly early stage in prehistory.

    The symbolism, complexity and time invested in the objects and jewelry found buried with the remains also suggests that it is possible that they developed rules, ceremonies and rituals to accompany the exchange of mates between groups, which perhaps foreshadowed modern marriage ceremonies, and may have been similar to those still practiced by hunter-gatherer communities in parts of the world today.

    The study's authors also hint that the early development of more complex mating systems may at least partly explain why anatomically modern humans proved successful while other species, such as Neanderthals, did not. However, more ancient genomic information from both early humans and Neanderthals is needed to test this idea.

    The research was carried out by an international team of academics, led by the University of Cambridge, UK, and the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. They sequenced the genomes of four individuals from Sunghir, a famous Upper Paleolithic site in Russia, which is believed to have been inhabited about 34,000 years ago.
    The human fossils buried at Sunghir represent a rare and highly valuable, source of information because very unusually for finds from this period, the people buried there appear to have lived at the same time and were buried together. To the researchers' surprise, however, these individuals were not closely related in genetic terms; at the very most, they were second cousins. This is true even in the case of two children who were buried head-to-head in the same grave.
    Prehistoric Humans are Likely to Have Formed Sex Networks to Avoid Inbreeding | Ancient Origins

    This means that they had formed the concepts of family and parenthood, and possibly pair-bonds. It strongly suggests that some of our modern morality is a result of behavior that is genetic in origin, which is itself a revolutionary idea as to humans.

    Your thoughts?
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    Junior Member Idiocracat's Avatar
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    Cat-tastic Babba's Avatar
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    Interesting. I'm certain it did contribute to how our societies developed.
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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    That's despicable, but normative behavior does not imply nobody ever engages in the bad behavior. It simply means most of us agree nobody should.
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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Babba View Post
    Interesting. I'm certain it did contribute to how our societies developed.
    Other species of mammals that live in family and community groups also avoid incest, I think. Wolves, elephants, lions, etc.
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    Sally Sitter Paris's Avatar
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    Incest is one of the taboos that is universally recognised in every human society (dixit Claude Levy-Strauss). It is possible that early humans have faced the dire consequences of incest without help from science.
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    Council Member Djinn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madeline View Post
    Other species of mammals that live in family and community groups also avoid incest, I think. Wolves, elephants, lions, etc.
    Correct; most animals (including humans) are hard-wired for inbreeding avoidance.

    Nice, short article on the subject here.
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    Veteran Member Micro Machines Champion, Race Against Time Champion Tedminator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madeline View Post


    Since they obviously did not know the science of human reproduction, this must have been motivated by a desire for stable families and communities.



    Prehistoric Humans are Likely to Have Formed Sex Networks to Avoid Inbreeding | Ancient Origins

    This means that they had formed the concepts of family and parenthood, and possibly pair-bonds. It strongly suggests that some of our modern morality is a result of behavior that is genetic in origin, which is itself a revolutionary idea as to humans.

    Your thoughts?
    Not according to the bible.

    Hmm come to think of it, inbreeding is probably why Jews of Eastern European origin are known for having certain diseases.

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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paris View Post
    Incest is one of the taboos that is universally recognised in every human society (dixit Claude Levy-Strauss). It is possible that early humans have faced the dire consequences of incest without help from science.
    Since they could not know about the risk of genetic defects, presumably they did so to allow parents to continue to nurture and protect younger people and to sustain their own pair-bond.

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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tedminator View Post
    Not according to the bible.

    Hmm come to think of it, inbreeding is probably why Jews of Eastern European origin are known for having certain diseases.
    Jews are not "known for having certain diseases"; most are completely healthy. But Jews do have an unusually high degree of genetic relatedness, not created by incest. There are genetic diseases that are rarely seen in people who have no Jewish ancestry.

    There have always been more than enough Jews to allow them to avoid incest AND assimilation at the same time.

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