A team of anthropologists has found that the Hadza tribe's movements while foraging can be described by a mathematical pattern called a Levy walk, a pattern that also is found in the movements of many other animals like sharks and honey bees.
A mathematical pattern of movement called a Levy walk describes the foraging behaviour of animals from sharks to honey bees, and now for the first time has been shown to describe human hunter-gatherer movement as well.
Lead author David Raichlen from University of Arizona said scientists have been interested in characterizing how animals search for a long time. So they decided to look at whether human hunter-gatherers use similar patterns.
The Hadza 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.
Members of the tribe wore wristwatches with GPS units that tracked their movement while on hunting or foraging bouts.
The GPS data showed that while the Hadza use other movement patterns, the dominant theme of their foraging movements is a Levy walk - the same pattern used by many other animals when hunting or foraging.
"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," study co-author Brian Wood, an anthropologist at Yale University, said.
Meanwhile, Adam Gordon, study co-author and a physical anthropologist at the University at Albany, State University of New York, said this movement pattern seems to occur across species and across environments in humans, from East Africa to urban areas. It shows up all across the world in different species and links the way that we move around in the natural world. This suggests that it's a fundamental pattern likely present in our evolutionary history.
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.