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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More