Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding

Sarah Hrdy is an American anthropologist who has devoted much of her career to studying parental care in primates.

She maintained that Darwin’s belief in sexually passive females stemmed from relatively new social mores that most primates, including some humans, did not abide by. Hrdy also maintains that the so-called maternal instinct doesn’t exist. A female primate’s capacity for parental care depends largely on her access to resources like food, shelter and a supportive mate.

2009 saw the publication of Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding“, in which Hrdy returns (after several books like“The Woman That Never Evolved (1981) and “Mother Nature” (1999)) to the topic of allomothers or alloparents. She argues that the development of extended families had a profound influence on human evolution.

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