developing its own special characteristics. Gracilization is farthest advanced in sub-Saharan Africans and Asians, with Europeans still in some instances showing large size and 218
What caused the gracilization of human skulls and the shrinking of human skulls and teeth all over the world? This is a large and complex issue, not least because a very similar downsizing affected the sheep, goats and other animals that were domesticated in the Neolithic era after the advent of agriculture. Researchers have attributed the smaller size of domesticated animals (compared with their wild forebears) to such facts as different diet, less physical activity, and a relaxation of the selective pressure favoring larger males under the conditions of 219
Lesser physical activity and the dietary changes brought about by agriculture have also been suggested as the reason why humans became lighter-boned and smaller. But the explanation must be sought elsewhere because it is clear that the gracilization of humans started well before the beginning of agriculture, and around the time of the earliest settlements some 15,000 years ago. The Natufians, the first settlers of the Near East, already
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