Sunday, April 22, 2007

Homo urbanis   posted by Razib @ 4/22/2007 11:33:00 PM

PNAS has a paper titled Growth, innovation, scaling, and the pace of life in cities, which notes that a majority of humans now live in cities. I know that historically cities were a population sink (and only a small minority ever did live in cities), but, I have to wonder what evolutionary implications the normativeness of city life will have on our species over the next few hundred years (assuming some sort of collapse or explosion doesn't make the idea of humanity irrelevant)? I say this because I suspect that the transition from hunter-gatherer to "dense" village living was highly significant (as illustrated by the mass disease die off in the New World when exposed to the Eurasian pathogen pool). Robin Dunbar's work suggests that our cognitive social intelligence doesn't scale up much past around 200 individuals. Villages aren't necessarily that much more populous than this, but cities are.