Birth and the Big Bad Wolf: Biocultural Evolution and Human Childbirth, Part 1


Once upon a time, there were six little pigs who set out to seek their fortunes in the world (okay, we know that in the original story there were only three, but just bear with us here!). Far away from home they journeyed, until the first little pig spied a peaceful meadow with a stream running through it; there he stopped his hot and weary journey. In 2 hours he had built himself a house of straw, then he spent another hour building animal traps, after which he set about to laugh and dance and play all day. It was like that every day – he would spend 3–5 hours hunting wild game, after which he could do as he pleased. The female pigs gathered wild grains, tubers and fruits so that food was available even when the hunt failed. Although the first little pig didn’t always like to admit it, the female pigs brought in 70–80% of the diet from foraging, and often helped with the hunting and trapping as well. He was feeling very content, for he had wished to find an environment that could sustain him and his small band of kin pigs, and he had. Sure, he and his like-minded friends experienced high infant mortality rates and a resulting life expectancy of around 35 years, as well as high death rates from endemic disease and accidental death. However, as they discussed frequently in their abundant leisure time (in between the long stories they loved to tell), these problems were offset by their varied and nutritious diets and high mobility, which made sanitation and infectious disease transmission non-issues. Life was good and gender relationships egalitarian for the most part.

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Cheyney, M., & Davis-Floyd, R. (2020). Birth and the Big Bad Wolf: Biocultural Evolution and Human Childbirth, Part 1. International Journal of Childbirth.