News / Science & Technology

Ancient Baby Boom Could Foreshadow Future

Sites like Pueblo Bonito in northern New Mexico reached their maximum size in the early 1100s A.D. (Nate Crabtree Photograpy)
Sites like Pueblo Bonito in northern New Mexico reached their maximum size in the early 1100s A.D. (Nate Crabtree Photograpy)

Related Articles

Native American Group asks OAS to Help With Land Claim

Leaders of Onondaga Indian Nation meet in Washington to petition Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, saying US courts have violated their group's rights by refusing to hear its claim to 2.5 million acres in New York state

Last Original Navajo Code Talker Dies at 93

Chester Nez was member of World War II Navajo Code Talkers, using cipher that could not be deciphered by Japanese
VOA News

A massive baby boom that began 1,500 years ago in the American Southwest and ended around 1,300 A.D. could offer valuable insight into modern-day overpopulation, new research suggests.
 
Examining thousands of remains of Native Americans and their tools gathered from the Four Corners region (where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet), scientists painted a picture of how several societies evolved from hunter-gatherers into farmers.
 
That transition, researchers say, led to birth rates that "exceeded the highest in the world today."
 
"It's the first step toward all the trappings of civilization that we currently see," said Tim Kohler, an anthropologist at Washington State University and co-author of a paper on the boom, in a statement.
 
Some of the groups in the region were very culturally advanced, with irrigation, ball courts and housing for elite families, researchers said.
 
But the success was a “trap.”
 
In the northern part of the Four Corners, the population climbed as high as 40,000 by the mid-1,200s. But in a short span of 30 years, “it was empty, leaving a mystery.”
 
The reason for the baby boom was maize, or corn.
 
Researcher shows that it was grown in the region as early as 2,000 B.C., but that it initially had a limited impact on population growth.
 
By 400 B.C., however, maize provided 80 percent of the region’s calories, researchers said.
 
This led to a rise in the birth rate that lasted until about 500 A.D., but the rate varied around the region.
 
Four hundred years later, populations were still high, but the birth rate began to “fluctuate.”
 
A massive drought struck in the mid 1,000s to 1,280 causing farmers to leave and conflict to ensue. Still, the birth rates remained high in the northern part of the region.
 
"They didn't slow down," said Kohler. "Birth rates were expanding right up to the depopulation. Why not limit growth? Maybe groups needed to be big to protect their villages and fields.”
 
Why the population collapsed is unclear. Researchers suggest that that there were perhaps too many to feed as the climate deteriorated. This, they say could have led to people leaving, making it “harder to maintain the social unity needed for defense and new infrastructure.”
 
"We can learn lessons from these people," said Kohler.
 
The report was published in this week's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
 

You May Like

Diplomats Work to Extend Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire

US Secretary of State John Kerry, diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gathered in Paris Saturday to discuss crisis More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (1)
Comments
     
by: Jose from: Los Angeles
July 02, 2014 9:28 AM
One more reason to stop illegal immigration into the USA and cut back on legal immigration. Too many people in the USA, who should not be here competing for resources with us and our children.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid