The more data we get about our ancestors, the more it will seem like demographics (except that ancestors can’t vote or butt in). The big one is “average human life span.” Here’s an interesting item from Discover:
Old adults were present across all time periods, but were by far most common among remains from European H. sapiens of the past 50,000 years, suggesting more than a 5-fold increase in elderly individuals. Modern humans, by this measure, had many more individuals that went on to reach old age than our evolutionary cousins.
A more recent study using this method, compared Stone Age Homo sapiens and Neanderthals to archaeological skeletons from the past 10,000 years as well as historical and ethnographic death data. The proportion of older adults from the Stone Age was slim compared to that from people of the past 10,000 years. Adult longevity, at least as measured over thousands of years, has actually gone up.
Other scientists disagree with the implications of these studies, though, arguing that the approach does not provide an honest picture of elders’ presence in the past.Bridget Alex, “When Did Humans Start to Get Old?” at Discover Magazine
We probably don’t know nearly enough yet but it would be surprising if organizing conditions to favor humans did not improve human longevity. It even works well for cats and dogs. “Indoor” cats, for example, live much longer than cats who are subject to nature.
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See also: Researcher: Ancient people were NOT all dead by 30 years of age This matter is worth clarifying because people arguing dubious claims about the mindset of ancient man sometimes assume that few people were around much beyond thirty years of age. But enough of them were around that the lifespan of 70 to 80 years was accepted as the norm for a human being, irrespective of the percentage of the population that reached it.
Is aging a “disease” or does it have an “evolutionary purpose”?
Study: Religiously affiliated people lived “9.45 and 5.64 years longer…”
Anomaly: Human mortality hits a plateau after 105 years of age From Discover Magazine: “ That is, you aren’t any more likely to die at 110 than at 105. It’s a contradictory finding, because mortality ticks steadily upward as we get older at all previous ages.”