You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Ancient skulls show civilization rose as testosterone fell


With all due respect to all the macho men out there, you guys might have been holding the human race back — at least in prehistoric times. Researchers at Duke University and the University of Utah say the rise of human civilization as we know it is linked to a drop in testosterone levels.

The paper, published in the journal Current Anthropology, posits that a testosterone deficit facilitated the friendliness and cooperation between humans, which lead to modern society. Study lead Robert Cieri posits "reduced testosterone levels enabled increasingly social people to better learn from and cooperate with each other."

While Homo sapiens are at least 200,000 years old, the species didn't really start acting human until at least 50,000 years ago, when widespread use of tools and ornaments first appeared. (Via PBS)

>> Read more trending stories

Cieri theorized that a drop in testosterone might be correlated with that renaissance, and looked to ancient skulls for evidence. Testosterone levels can significantly shape the development of certain facial features, particularly the brow ridge and upper face.

​The scientists examined 1,400 human skulls from various prehistoric and modern periods. Comparing the newer skulls to the ancient ones, researchers noticed a sharp decline in features sculpted by testosterone; modern skulls have smaller brows and more rounded faces. (Via Matt Celeskey / CC BY SA 2.0High Contrast / CC BY 3.0 DEThomas Roche / CC BY SA 2.0)

Based on these findings, the study concluded two things; "the fossil record of H. sapiens does reflect reductions in craniofacial masculinity," and "it seems likely that important increases in human social tolerance developed during this interval." (Via Current Anthropology)

Or as The Washington Post puts it, the decline of testosterone led to "less head clubbing and more community building, basically."

There's some precedent for these findings in the animal kingdom. The researchers cited previous studies of Siberian foxes, whose appearances became more juvenile as they were domesticated. They also noted the differences in facial structures between aggressive chimpanzees and their more relaxed cousins, the bonobos. (Via Vimeo / Tyler ColePsych USD / CC BY SA 3.0Thomas Lersch / CC BY SA 3.0)

But there's only so much information researchers can glean from the ancient skulls. For instance, the study doesn't reveal whether the testosterone-lacking skulls were actually caused by a testosterone deficiency, or if the developing humans simply had fewer and fewer receptors for the chemical.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Health

Spring cleaning your computer

As you’re doing spring cleaning around the home, don’t forget about your computer! It needs taken care of, too. Here are a few things you should consider doing to keep your computer in tip-top shape: Run a malware scanner to remove junk: Along with having an anti-virus installed, consider a secondary anti-malware program. They can catch...
D.L. STEWART: Enjoying Major League Baseball by the numbers

In the latest example of fascinating Major League Baseball statistics, studies show that a 29-year-old centerfielder saves an average of four fewer runs per season than a 28-year-old centerfielder, The New York Times reported this week. While you may wonder why a prestigious newspaper would use valuable space to report stuff like that, baseball fans...
Study: Diet drinks can lead to stroke, dementia
Study: Diet drinks can lead to stroke, dementia

Diet sodas — one of America's favorite caffeine-delivery systems — appears to be just as unhealthy as their sugary cousins The Washington Post reports that a new study refutes the theory that diet drinks are a better option than those made with sugar or corn syrup. The new study in the journal Stroke says people who drink diet soda...
Organize for your loved ones while you still can

Today’s column may make you squirm a bit because it’s about death. The statistics regarding death are the same for all of us. We have a 100 percent chance of dying. Death is a big reason why people hire me. I have worked with clients who were very near to their own death, spouses whose partners had fallen ill or passed away, and adult children...
Why it’s important not to rush to kill those dandelions
Why it’s important not to rush to kill those dandelions

My mother-in-law and I had a brief conversation this past weekend about the person who decided that lawns should be green. I totally agree with her that lawns don’t have to be all green. When my husband Rick and I were getting ready to plant grass seed for our new lawn, I first asked him what color he thought the lawn should be. Of course, he...
More Stories