Apr 20th, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Violent Death in Northern Siberia: Application of Evolutionary Hypotheses

Faculty Mentor

Dr. John P. Ziker


Evolutionary adaptations are traits which persist because they effectively increase the fitness, reproductive success, of the individual over a lasting period of time, under a given set of environmental conditions. Certain behaviors in humans may be linked to such fitness-related adaptations. One trajectory of evolutionary behavioral theory seeks to understand the role of violent behaviors in mating relationships among humans (Daly and Wilson, 1993). It has been proposed that coercive violence represents an evolved trait in males which in past times may have effectively increased the likelihood of fidelity, and thus certainty of parentage. Avoiding cuckoldry, the unwitting investment in offspring that are not one’sown, is one possible fitness-related benefit of this trait. The aim of this research was to test specific hypothesis relating to this theory. Information from two censuses (1997, 2007) taken in Ust-Avam, in Siberia, Russia, was used to gather data on the reproductive success, age, and relativerelatedness of females who had died violently. Our findings included a trend toward lower numbers of offspring for women who died violently. We argue that lower numbers of offspring may serve as a cue for reproductive potential (RP), thus we fail to reject Daly and Wilson’s hypothesis that women with higher RV would be more susceptible to violent acts. Further, we found a trend of decreased local kinship ties for those women who died violently. Two measures of relatedness—absolute number of immediate kin (immediates) and average consanguineal relatedness to all community members (FgAll)—were not statistically significant due to our limited sample size, but clearly show a trend expected in Daly and Wilson’s hypothesis that increased kinship networks reduce female susceptibility to male perpetrated violence.