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Hadza people participate in study of hunter-gatherer movement patterns (Image 1)

Hadza people of Tanzania wore wristwatches with GPS trackers that followed their movements

While participating in a study on human hunter-gatherer movement patterns, members of the Hadza tribe of Tanzania wore wristwatches with GPS trackers that followed their movements while hunting or foraging. The GPS data showed that while the Hadza use other movement patterns, the dominant theme of their foraging movements is a LÚvy walk, the same mathematical pattern used by many other animals--from sharks to honeybees--when hunting or foraging.

The study--the first of its kind--was conducted by a research team led by University of Arizona (UA) anthropologist David Raichlen. Raichlen wanted to see if human hunter-gatherers use similar patterns to animals when searching for a long period of time.

The LÚvy walk pattern--a series of short movements in one location and then a longer trek to another location--appears to be ubiquitous in animals, similar to the golden ratio, phi, a mathematical ratio that has been found to describe proportions in plants and animals throughout nature.

The researchers found that the Levy walk is not limited to searching for food. Research has shown that humans will sometimes follow a Levy walk while doing leisurely things like walking around an amusement park. The pattern also can be used as a predictor for urban development.

"Detecting this pattern among the Hadza, as has been found in several other species, tells us that such patterns are likely the result of general foraging strategies that many species adopt, across a wide variety of contexts," said study co-author Brian Wood, an anthropologist at Yale University.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation (grant BCS 10-62879).

To learn more, see the UA news story Walking the walk: What sharks, honeybees and humans have in common. (Date of Image: 2011) [See related image Here.]

Credit: Brian Wood, Anthropology Department, Yale University

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