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How did pre-humans care for their infants?

 
 
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 09:57 am
More specifically, I'm curious how pre-humans (Humans who did not yet have the technology or brain power for cloth or diapers), dealt with the peeing/pooping habits of newborn infants (from zero to one-year old approx).

Obviously the mothers were carrying the infants and nursing them, but how did they avoid getting pooped on by the infants? And when they were in their cave (or wherever they lived) at night, how did they avoid the infants messing up their sleeping area?

Also, how could they go out into the world (any dangerous environment) with an infant that might cry (give away their location) at any moment?

Humans are born in a less developed state than most other primates. Chimp infants and Baboon infants mature rapidly enough to hang onto their mothers and crawl around on their own within days, but human infants are much more helpless for a longer period of time.

Somehow our ancestors must have dealt with these challenges effectively, or we wouldn't be here. How did they do it?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 7 • Views: 3,964 • Replies: 30
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aidan
 
  0  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 10:38 am
@rosborne979,
Laughing Laughing Laughing
Well yeah, it's all about survival of the fittest right - and if you're made vulnerable by a crying infant - so be it - you're vulnerable - which as a mother you learn that you are. You'd give up just about anything for that little bundle- including your life. So their crying was just a fact of life - right - you just had to hope that they didn't cry at exactly the wrong time - or else you'd do what mothers do and lay down your life for them.

Pooping and peeing? I picture it being much easier in a warmer climate. No clothing or bedding to wash. I was born in Texas, so my ancestors had sensibly moved to a warmer climate where outer wear wasn't needed. For most of the year, all you had to wash was your skin, like in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization.

It's only those crazy Europeans who needed furs to keep warm. I've often thought about that - why migrate to someplace less amenable for human survival? I especially thought about it when I moved to Maine. Can you imagine all those smoky smelling animal skins in an enclosed space in the winter? Madness...

BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 10:41 am
@rosborne979,
First, I assume they would clean up their living quarters from time to time. Even I do that if hardly often enough for my wife and once it got out of hand you could always move camp to a new location as animals do now.

It take a tribe to raised the children as Mrs. Clinton had said and I would also assume that part of the tribe would be back in the caves or other secure areas guarding and taking care of the children IE day care.

And last the time frame for a child to be carrying his or her full weight would be far far less then now.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 10:45 am
@aidan,
aidan wrote:
Well yeah, it's all about survival of the fittest right - and if you're made vulnerable by a crying infant - so be it - you're vulnerable - which as a mother you learn that you are. You'd give up just about anything for that little bundle- including your life.

Ok, but even if the mothers gave up their lives defending their babies, which I'm sure they did, it still wouldn't help them (or their infant) survive, so they must have been doing something to minimize their risk. I'm just not sure what it was.
aidan wrote:
Pooping and peeing? I picture it being much easier in a warmer climate. No clothing or bedding to wash. For most of the year, all you had to wash was your skin, like in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization.

But I'm not asking about ancient humans, I'm wondering about PRE-humans who didn't know how to make cloth any more than a Baboon does. How would they clean themselves, or their infants. Did they live by the water? Did they roll in the straw or dirt to clean themselves?

Most mammals keep themselves very clean. I suspect our ancestors did the same. I'm just not sure how they did it.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 10:51 am
@BillRM,
BillRM wrote:
First, I assume they would clean up their living quarters from time to time.

Did they use their bare hands to pick up the poop? They didn't have cloth, and they may not have even known enough to use leaves.
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 10:55 am
@rosborne979,
Quote:
But I'm not asking about ancient humans, I'm wondering about PRE-humans who didn't know how to make cloth any more than a Baboon does. How would they clean themselves, or their infants. Did they live by the water? Did they roll in the straw or dirt to clean themselves?

I bet they bathed in the rivers. That's why so many of the ancient towns were by rivers - a water source - for drinking and cleanliness. And sand banks which were essential for cleanliness.

You know, when I was camping at the beach, I used to let my son go without diapers. After about a year, or after they stop breastfeeding, they only poop about once a day. And peeing is fine wherever, you know - if the floor isn't tiled or carpeted.

But I don't know what moms did to stop babies' crying to hide and protect themselves- aside from keeping them fed. That's a hard one.
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 10:57 am
@rosborne979,
I used my hands to pick up poop instinctively once when my son was standing in the bathtub and I was running the bath and I didn't want the water to get dirty.

I also learned to not mind picking up horsepoop with my hands (as long as it was dry) when I was taking care of horses and mucking out the stall.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 11:15 am
@aidan,
aidan wrote:
After about a year, or after they stop breastfeeding, they only poop about once a day.

Ok, so we have the "babies poop somewhat regularly after a year", and maybe mom can kinda tell when it's gonna happen, so she runs the baby out to the community latrine and holds him over it, theory. That might work, but what did they do for the first year?
0 Replies
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 11:22 am
Many mammals use their tongue to wash their young.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 11:22 am
@aidan,
aidan wrote:
I also learned to not mind picking up horsepoop with my hands (as long as it was dry) when I was taking care of horses and mucking out the stall.

I can't say from experience, but I've heard that infant poop isn't quite to dry and easy to handle as horse poop.

There still seems to be a significant period of time here (one year or so) in which keeping both mom and infant clean seems very challenging for pre-humans. Whatever solution they used, must have been relatively simple and convenient, since this must have been part of their daily routine for many months.

How do primitive cultures like Amazon tribes do this? I realize that Amazon tribes people are every bit as smart as we are, and could certainly create cloth and tools (unlike pre-humans), but how DO they manage. Does anyone know anything about Amazonian tribal social behavior and infant rearing?
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 11:25 am
@Chumly,
Chumly wrote:
Many mammals use their tongue to wash their young.

Correct. I just don't think this would have been feasible for pre-humans. Also, I'm not even sure most primates do that (Chimps and Apes). The big difference with Apes is that their young are born much more developed than humans are due to reduced cranial size being able to pass through the birth canal. So infant apes become much more mobil and coordinated (and able to control bodily functions) much faster than human babies do.
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 11:39 am
@rosborne979,
Animals know how to used leaves and stricks and...........
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 12:25 pm
Humans who moved to colder climates did so because they were following game--in the periglacial regions, trees did not prosper, but grasslands did, and those grasslands supported populations of grazing animals such as the world has not seen since. All of that, however, occurred after the arrival of homo sapiens. Pre-humans, if that means the species before homo sapiens, apparently lived in sub-tropical and tropical climates, based on where their remains have been found. It is doubtful that they ever assembled in very large bands, and the overall hominid population would have been very small. It would have been conditioned by the available food resources, so that no large concentrations of people would have arisen where the resources were not available.

In the early 1970s, in eastern Asia, i routinely saw children under the age of about four walking around with only a shirt on, doing their defecating and urination where they stood. I doubt that things were much different for pre-homo sapiens hominids. They would have been very likely migratory, because they would have been obliged to follow game, and to follow the seasonal maturation of plant food sources. I doubt that it is appropriate to speak in terms of dwelling places. Although they may have camped in the same places with which they were familiar from one year to the next, i doubt that they made anything which can be called a permanent dwelling. As for being troglodytic, i doubt that, too. Both because being anchored to a single site was not consonant with following game and the maturation of vegetal food sources, and because caves are not healthy places to live. Evidence from homo sapiens in Europe in interstadial ice age periods is that although they may have made sculptures in caves, and painted the walls, they didn't actually live there. They more likely would have erected shelters of some kind beneath south-facing shelter bluffs, and put caves to other uses. Beside the fact that dangerous animals often inhabit caves, they are damp and are not well ventilated.

An infant who needs to be carried can be wrapped in a skin and put on the mothers back. If they mess the skin, there would be little problem, it can simply be rinsed in a stream. If the band stayed for any number of days in the same location, an infant can be laid on a bed of leaves, which can then be discarded. With a small band, there aren't going to be very many infants in the band at any one time in any event.

It is completely unreasonable to think of early hominids inhabiting "dwellings" such as we would be likely to recognize. There would be no need for them, and no incentive to build them.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 12:33 pm
@Setanta,
Ok, I buy all that. But how did pre-homo habilis nomadic groups which did not use tools or skins but had to carry infants and nurse them, deal with unpredictable defecation?

chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 12:40 pm
When the baby started to poop or pee, whoever was holding it would hold it out and away from them. If any got on them, they'd scrape it off with sand, leaves, dirt, water....whatever was nearby.

I learned that pretty quick when I picked up a tortoise to get it out of the middle of the highway, and it let loose a bucket of pee. Didn't take any thought at all.

I'm thinking pre-human babies did not cry as much as human ones do today, or as loud. Did pre-humans have language? Do other animal babies cry loudly?

As far a animals keeping themselves clean, I'm thinking chimps in the wild have a pretty strong odor, to our noses.
0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 12:42 pm
Hominids most likely evolved around the edgtes between grasslands and forest. Hunting and gathering is actually very productive--those left today have been pushed to the least productive land by encroaching more complex societies, but in lessmarginal land it generally requires less labor to get your food than agriculture does, and provides a more balanced diet/ The grasslands and forests of Africa were very productive. Also, being tropical, there was less seasonality and more year-round availability of food, requiring less nomadism. And most of the diet actually comes from the gathering, rather than the hunting. Largely because of the requirements of child-rearing, most known hunter-gatherer societies in recent history have seen the women doing the gathering. Very few root vegetables are scared away by, or are likely to attack, a crying child.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 12:45 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

More specifically, I'm curious how pre-humans (Humans who did not yet have the technology or brain power for cloth or diapers), dealt with the peeing/pooping habits of newborn infants (from zero to one-year old approx).

Obviously the mothers were carrying the infants and nursing them, but how did they avoid getting pooped on by the infants? And when they were in their cave (or wherever they lived) at night, how did they avoid the infants messing up their sleeping area?

Also, how could they go out into the world (any dangerous environment) with an infant that might cry (give away their location) at any moment?

Humans are born in a less developed state than most other primates. Chimp infants and Baboon infants mature rapidly enough to hang onto their mothers and crawl around on their own within days, but human infants are much more helpless for a longer period of time.

Somehow our ancestors must have dealt with these challenges effectively, or we wouldn't be here. How did they do it?


Chances r that if u spend some time at the monkey house at the zoo,
your observations will give u a general idea.

Better off without giving your mind to scatological concerns,
it seems to me.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 12:46 pm
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

unpredictable defecation?


I'll bet any mother will tell you they know when their baby/toddler in diapers is going to make a number 2 in a few seconds.

It's that "10 yard poop gaze"....same like dogs get.

Pre-humans sense of hygiene was the same as ours I'm pretty sure. Clean did mean no dirt under the nails, or a big concern about eye goop, or a little baby poop on their knee. They cleaned it off as good as they could, and moved on.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 01:15 pm
I oppose CENSORSHIP,
but if we were going to start it,
a good place to begin woud be scatology.
0 Replies
 
MontereyJack
 
  1  
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 01:16 pm
Or, as the old rhetorical question goes, "Do bears **** in the woods, is the pope Catholic?"
0 Replies
 
 

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