Human hunting behavior is similar to sharks and bees
Human hunter-gatherers employed the same foraging movements as used by many other animals such as sharks and honey bees when hunting, a new study has found
A mathematical model of the foraging behavior of animals from sharks to honey bees can describe human hunter-gatherer movement as well, scientists say.
A research team led by University of Arizona scientist David Raichlen has found that the Hadza tribe’s movements while foraging can be described by a mathematical pattern called a Levy walk – a pattern that also is found in the movements of many other animals.
The Hadza are one of the last big-game hunters in Africa, and one of the last groups on Earth to still forage on foot with traditional methods.
“Scientists have been interested in characterizing how animals search for a long time so we decided to look at whether human hunter-gatherers use similar patterns,” said Raichlen.
Members of the tribe wore wristwatches with GPS units that tracked their movement while on hunting or foraging bouts.
The GPS data showed that while the Hadza use other movement patterns, the dominant theme of their foraging movements is a Levy walk – the same pattern used by many other animals when hunting or foraging.
“Detecting this pattern among the Hadza, as has been found in several other species, tells us that such patterns are likely the result of general foraging strategies that many species adopt, across a wide variety of contexts,” said study co-author Brian Wood, an anthropologist at Yale University.
“This movement pattern seems to occur across species and across environments in humans, from East Africa to urban areas,” said Adam Gordon, study co-author and a physical anthropologist at the University at Albany, State University of New York.
“It shows up all across the world in different species and links the way that we move around in the natural world. This suggests that it’s a fundamental pattern likely present in our evolutionary history,” said Gordon.
The Levy walk, which involves a series of short movements in one area and then a longer trek to another area, is not limited to searching for food.
Studies have shown that humans sometimes follow a Levy walk while ambling around an amusement park. The pattern also can be used as a predictor for urban development.
Following a Levy walk pattern does not mean that humans don’t consciously decide where they are going, Raichlen said.
“We definitely use memories and cues from the environment as we search but this pattern seems to emerge in the process,” he said. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.