Extraordinary intelligence and the care of infants.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Piantadosi, Steven T; Kidd, Celeste
Year of Publication: 2016
Journal: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Date Published: 2016 May 23
Publication Language: ENG
ISSN: 1091-6490

We present evidence that pressures for early childcare may have been one of the driving factors of human evolution. We show through an evolutionary model that runaway selection for high intelligence may occur when (i) altricial neonates require intelligent parents, (ii) intelligent parents must have large brains, and (iii) large brains necessitate having even more altricial offspring. We test a prediction of this account by showing across primate genera that the helplessness of infants is a particularly strong predictor of the adults' intelligence. We discuss related implications, including this account's ability to explain why human-level intelligence evolved specifically in mammals. This theory complements prior hypotheses that link human intelligence to social reasoning and reproductive pressures and explains how human intelligence may have become so distinctive compared with our closest evolutionary relatives.

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1506752113
Alternate Journal: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.
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