‘Hunter Gatherer’ pop quiz

I have come across a whole bunch of interesting learnings from ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’, a book that traces man’s progress through time to understand why the world is the way it is.

First up, the 3 questions –

1) Would you know why kids of early ‘hunter gatherers’ were spaced at 4 year intervals?
2) Did societies always exist? In tribes of early ‘hunter gatherers’, were their politicians, armies etc? If not, why? And when did they come to exist?
3) Out of the many 1000s of species of animals, only 14 of them have been domesticated. Can you think of 3 criteria for an animal to be domesticated?

Any guesses yet? Yes, go ahead, scratch that head.. :-)


1. Children were spaced at 4 year intervals because the 2nd kid could only be born once the 1st could walk. As hunter gatherers had to constantly keep moving and hadn’t domesticated animals till they settled down to farm, quick movement was critical!

2. It was only once humans transitioned to farming as a way of life did societies arise. Once the food problem had been solved, humans stopped living life fighting everyday fires, and could then afford ‘luxuries’ like politicians, armies etc!

3. There are 4 criteria in total – a) Large size (so they can pull heavy loads/do heavy work) b) Good temperament c) Fast growth rate and d) Green diets (carnivores are very expensive).
Essentially, the ideal candidate is a large, docile herbivore, weighing over 100 pounds and content to be part of a herd under human control. Of the fourteen, only 5 animals are common in all parts of the world. These are the goat, the sheep, the pig, the horse and our champion – the cow.

I enjoyed unraveling these little mysteries. Hope you did too.