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Hadza people participate in study of hunter-gatherer movement patterns (Image 2)

The Hadza people of Tanzania are one of the last big-game hunters in Africa

The Hadza people of Tanzania are one of the last big-game hunters in Africa, and one of the last groups on Earth to still forage on foot with traditional methods. The Hadza people participated in a study--the first of its kind--on human hunter-gatherer movement patterns.

The study 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. Results from the study found that the tribe's movements while foraging can be described by a mathematical pattern called a LÚvy walk, a pattern that also is found in the movements of many other animals, from sharks to honeybees.

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: 2005) [See related image Here.]

Credit: Brian Wood, Anthropology Department, Yale University
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