Nikhil Chaudhary

Nikhil Chaudhary
University of Cambridge | Cam · Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

PhD in Evolutionary Anthropology

About

37
Publications
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Introduction
I am a lecturer in Evolutionary Anthropology based at the University of Cambridge. My research thus far has focussed on the evolution of sociality, cooperation and cumulative culture in our species, which I have investigated by working with contemporary hunter-gatherer populations. Moving forward I am interested in applying evolutionary thinking to the study of psychiatric disorders. www.nikhilchaudhary.co.uk

Publications

Publications (37)
Article
Full-text available
The social organization of mobile hunter-gatherers has several derived features, including low within-camp relatedness and fluid meta-groups. Although these features have been proposed to have provided the selective context for the evolution of human hypercooperation and cumulative culture, how such a distinctive social system may have emerged rema...
Article
Full-text available
Many defining human characteristics including theory of mind, culture and language relate to our sociality, and facilitate the formation and maintenance of cooperative relationships. Therefore, deciphering the context in which our sociality evolved is invaluable in understanding what makes us unique as a species. Much work has emphasised group-leve...
Article
Full-text available
Social networks in modern societies are highly structured, usually involving frequent contact with a small number of unrelated ‘friends’ 1 . However, contact network structures in traditional small-scale societies, especially hunter-gatherers, are poorly characterized. We developed a portable wireless sensing technology (motes) to study within-camp...
Article
Full-text available
Ethnographers frequently allude to alcoholism and related harms in Indigenous hunter-gatherer communities, but very few studies have quantified patterns of alcohol consumption or its health and social impacts. We present a case study of the Mbendjele BaYaka, a Congolese population undergoing socioeconomic transition. 83 adults answered questions ab...
Article
Full-text available
High-fidelity transmission of information through imitation and teaching has been proposed as necessary for cumulative cultural evolution. Yet, it is unclear when and for which knowledge domains children employ different social learning processes. This paper explores the development of social learning processes and play in BaYaka hunter-gatherer ch...
Article
Full-text available
We conducted a cross-cultural experiment on a sample of 230 participants, to examine how listening to an audio recording of a male telling a joke followed by either laughter (humorous condition) or an unimpressed murmur (non-humorous condition) affected participant ratings of that male’s social status, dominance, prestige and attractiveness. The ex...
Preprint
Ancestral humans evolved a complex social structure still observed in extant hunter-gatherers. Here we investigate the effects of extensive sociality and mobility on the oral microbiome of 138 Agta hunter-gatherers from the Philippines. Comparisons of microbiome composition showed that the Agta are more similar to Central African Bayaka hunter-gath...
Preprint
Full-text available
Examining development is essential for a full understanding of behaviour, including how individuals acquire traits and how adaptive evolutionary forces shape these processes. The present study explores cooperative development among the Agta, a Filipino hunter-gatherer population. A simple resource allocation game assessing both levels of cooperatio...
Preprint
Full-text available
Aversion towards bitter tastes evolved across vertebrate species to enable the recognition of harmful plant toxins. Genetic background, mode of subsistence, and dietary factors may explain variation in bitter taste sensitivity between human ecologies. We are the first to examine bitter taste perception within a population at different levels of mar...
Article
Full-text available
Non-maternal carers (allomothers) are hypothesized to lighten the mother's workload, allowing for the specialized human life history including relatively short interbirth intervals and multiple dependent offspring. Here, using in-depth observational data on childcare provided to 78 Agta children (a foraging population in the northern Philippines; a...
Article
Full-text available
Cultures around the world are converging as populations become more connected. On the one hand this increased connectedness can promote the recombination of existing cultural practices to generate new ones, but on the other it may lead to the replacement of traditional practices and global WEIRDing. Here we examine the process and causes of changes...
Article
Full-text available
Human children are frequently cared for by non-parental caregivers (alloparents), yet few studies have conducted systematic alternative hypothesis tests of why alloparents help. Here we explore whether predictions from kin selection, reciprocity, learning-to-mother and costly signalling hypotheses explain non-parental childcare among Agta hunter-ga...
Preprint
Full-text available
Non-maternal caregivers (allomothers) are hypothesised to lighten the mother’s workload, producing human’s specialised life history where multiple dependent offspring are produced over a relatively short time period. Here, using in-depth observational data on who for cares for 78 Agta children (aged 0-6 years, a foraging population in northern Phil...
Article
Despite much theorizing, the evolutionary reasons why humans cooperate extensively with unrelated individuals are still largely unknown. While reciprocity explains many instances of non-kin cooperation, much remains to be understood. A recent suite of models based upon ‘cooperative assortativity’ suggest that non-kin cooperation can evolve if indiv...
Article
Full-text available
Storytelling is a human universal. From gathering around the camp-fire telling tales of ancestors to watching the latest television box-set, humans are inveterate producers and consumers of stories. Despite its ubiquity, little attention has been given to understanding the function and evolution of storytelling. Here we explore the impact of storyt...
Article
Storytelling is a human universal. From gathering around the camp-fire telling tales of ancestors to watching the latest television box-set, humans are inveterate producers and consumers of stories. Despite its ubiquity, little attention has been given to understanding the function and evolution of storytelling. Here we explore the impact of storyt...
Article
Full-text available
Precise estimation of age is essential in evolutionary anthropology, especially to infer population age structures and understand the evolution of human life history diversity. However, in small-scale societies, such as hunter-gatherer populations, time is often not referred to in calendar years, and accurate age estimation remains a challenge. We...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals’ centrality in their social network (who they and their social ties are connected to) has been associated with fertility, longevity, disease and information transmission in a range of taxa. Here, we present the first exploration in humans of the relationship between reproductive success and different measures of network centrality of 39...
Article
Full-text available
Humans possess the unique ability for cumulative culture [1, 2]. It has been argued that hunter-gatherer's complex social structure [3-9] has facilitated the evolution of cumulative culture by allowing information exchange among large pools of individuals [10-13]. However, empirical evidence for the interaction between social structure and cultural...
Article
Like many other mammalian and primate societies [1–4], humans are said to live in multilevel social groups, with individuals situated in a series of hierarchically structured sub-groups [5, 6]. Although this multilevel social organization has been described among contemporary hunter-gatherers [5], questions remain as to the benefits that individual...
Article
Full-text available
Humans regularly cooperate with non-kin, which has been theorized to require reciprocity between repeatedly interacting and trusting individuals. However, the role of repeated interactions has not previously been demonstrated in explaining real-world patterns of hunter–gatherer cooperation. Here we explore cooperation among the Agta, a population o...
Data
File 1: Supplementary Material Section 1: Study Population Section 2: Game Rationale and Data Collection Section 3: Camp Stability Measure Section 4: Statistical Analyses Section 5: Camp Stability and Foraging Return Rates Tables S1–S7 Figures S1 & S2
Poster
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Poster presentation at AAPA 2016 symposium ’Biocultural Perspectives of Family Health’
Article
Full-text available
The Neolithic demographic transition remains a paradox, because it is associated with both higher rates of population growth and increased morbidity and mortality rates. Here we reconcile the conflicting evidence by proposing that the spread of agriculture involved a life history quality–quantity trade-off whereby mothers traded offspring survival...
Presentation
Full-text available
Presentation about the relationship between sedentism and helminthic burden in modern day foragers.
Article
Full-text available
The occurrence of polygynous marriage in hunter–gatherer societies, which do not accumulate wealth, remains largely unexplored since resource availability is dependent on male hunting capacity and limited by the lack of storage. Hunter–gatherer societies offer the greatest insight in to human evolution since they represent the majority of our speci...

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