During the day, the Kalahari Bushmen of Southern Africa and often talk of economic matters, jokes and gossip. But at night, 81 percent of their conversations involve storytelling around a campfire, a pastime that transmits their culture to the younger generation and strengths bonds within their group. Here, women gather around a fire to talk.
Wearing a Calvin Klein hat and holding a recorder, a !Kung Bushman tells a story around a nighttime fire. Fires like this one allowed human ancestors to stay up late and tell stories that may have helped human thought, social connections and culture evolve.
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The !Kung Kalahari Bushmen sit at camp. During the day, the !Kung tend to talk about economic matters and gossip, complain and jokes with each another. However, at night their firelight stories stories help reinforce social traditions and spark the imagination, according to research published Sept. 22, 2014, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
A Kalahari Bushman who is part of the !Kung group. At night, the Bushmen tell stories about people closeby and faraway, as well as people in the spirit world. These stories may help provide a sense of community, the study said.
Members of the !Kung Bushmen in Africa’s Kalahari Desert help transcribe and translate an audio recording of a firelight conversation. University of Utah anthropologist Polly Wiessner used the translations to understand how daytime talk differs from nighttime discussions. It's possible that firelight conversations helped human ancestors develop and maintain a culture, she said.