Origins of the Multifamily Community

Where should one start when attempting to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the exogamy configuration? Interestingly, the answer to this question is contained in the timing of the evolution of its most basic feature, the modal composition of human groups. That composition is the multifamily community (Rodseth et al. 1991) and its evolutionary origin appears to date back to the Pan-Homo split, some 6-7 million years ago (Fig. 2.4). The multifamily community is a rare form of group that combines two independent elements: a multimale-multifemale composition and a mating system featuring stable breeding bonds (monogamous or polygynous). On logical grounds, a multifamily system may evolve through two different paths. According to the first possibility, the multimale-multifemale composition came first, followed by the evolution of stable breeding bonds, as illustrated in Fig. 2.5. Humans and their two closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, form multimale-multifemale groups, which suggests that this trait is homologous in the three species and shared with their last common ancestor. Accordingly, early hominids formed

Fig. 2.4 Phylogenetic relationships of humans and apes as assessed by several sets of molecular data (Goodman et al. 1998, 2005; Enard and Paabo 2004). Ou orangutans, Go gorillas, Bo bonobos, Ch chimpanzees, Hu humans. The Pan genus includes chimpanzees and bonobos

Fig. 2.4 Phylogenetic relationships of humans and apes as assessed by several sets of molecular data (Goodman et al. 1998, 2005; Enard and Paabo 2004). Ou orangutans, Go gorillas, Bo bonobos, Ch chimpanzees, Hu humans. The Pan genus includes chimpanzees and bonobos

Pan-Homo split

Chimpanzee Hypothesis multimale-multifemale group

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