A mathematical pattern of movement called a Lévy walk describes the foraging behavior of animals from sharks to honey bees, and now for the first time has been shown to describe human hunter-gatherer movement as well. The study, led by University of Arizona anthropologist David Raichlen, was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Lévy walk pattern 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.
Describing human movement patterns could also help anthropologists to understand how humans transported raw materials in the past, how our home ranges expanded and how we interact with our environment today, Raichlen noted.
“We can characterize these movement patterns across different human environments, and that means we can use this movement pattern to understand past mobility,” Raichlen said. “Also, finding patterns in nature is always fun.”