Kinder, Gentler Humans Built Modern Culture

Study finds link between lower testosterone, evolutionary jump

By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 4, 2014 2:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – Maybe all mankind needed to become more civilized was a kinder, gentler touch, suggests a study out of the University of Utah and Duke University. The new research now links a drop in testosterone to our ancestors' sudden jump into civilized behavior about 50,000 years ago. This is when we started making art, bone and antler tools, projectile weapons, and fishing and birding equipment, as well as using fire, the Telegraph explains. In addition, "Humans are uniquely able to communicate complex thoughts and cooperate even with strangers," the study author says, and the research shows that "these traits are linked ... and were a driving force behind the development of complex culture," and also developed around the same time as the drop in testosterone levels.

He believes testosterone levels waned when we started living and working together and realized cooperation was the key to survival. By examining the skulls of 1,400 modern and ancient humans, he found that the heavy ridges and oblong skulls—features linked to higher testosterone—disappeared, and the human face became more feminine and rounded. These nicer, gentler humans were better able to put their newly-rounded heads together and make a giant leap in their evolution, the study suggests. "The key to our success is the ability to cooperate and get along and learn from one another," says the author. (Apparently, the male face also evolved to take a punch.)

  (Shutterstock)
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