Home Base

Certainty Style Key
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True   Likely   Speculative
Human Uniqueness Compared to "Great Apes": 
Absolute Difference
MOCA Domain: 

A home base, or central place, can be defined as a fixed location (for weeks, months, or years) that provides a place for diurnal and/or nocturnal activities. The term Central Place Foraging (CFP) is used to classify primate species that return to a central place to sleep  and/or to classify human populations that bring food back to a central place to consume, share, or store. Returning to a home base, or central place, allows for protection from predators at night and allows for sharing of food with dependent offspring and individuals unable to forage. Most, but not all, human societies follow this practice. The use of a home base has long been considered a key characteristic that diferentiates humans from apes.

Great apes generally occupy a home range as opposed to utilizing a home base. They may travel long distances to obtain food and consume at the site where it is found rather than transporting the food back to a central location.

Human ancestors are thought to have switched from home range areas to home bases during the Paleolithic period, however CPF may have begun with the hominin clade without leaving traces in the archaeological record. The use of central places would have had important consequences for diet composition, social organization, and reproduction. The use of tools, such as the digging stick or bows & arrows, would have allowed for surplus production. The use of containers, like an animal hide sling, would have allowed surplus production to be transported back to camp. Surplus production allows for earlier weaning which enables the mother to resume ovulation sooner and have subsequent offspring more rapdily, effectively shortening the inter-birth interval (IBI) and increasing lifetime reproductive success. The development of CPF has been linked to the evolution of food sharing, the sexual division of labor, cooperation, prosociality, and the development of economies of exchange.




Timing of appearance of the difference in the Hominin Lineage as a defined date or a lineage separation event. The point in time associated with lineage separation events may change in the future as the scientific community agrees upon better time estimates. Lineage separation events are defined in 2017 as:

  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and old world monkeys was 25,000 - 30,000 thousand (25 - 30 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and chimpanzees was 6,000 - 8,000 thousand (6 - 8 million) years ago
  • the emergence of the genus Homo was 2,000 thousand (2 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and neanderthals was 500 thousand years ago
  • the common ancestor of modern humans was 100 - 300 thousand years ago

Probable Appearance: 
2,000 thousand years ago
Definite Appearance: 
100 thousand years ago


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