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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid