For decades, scientists have relied on the concept of mobility in describing activity patterns of past and present human populations. Population-level comparisons have traditionally sought to demonstrate differential mobility (e.g., logistical or residential) amongst Pleistocene or Holocene Homo groups, using this as a basis for inferring convergent or contrasting adaptive behavior. For example, shifting from a hunter-gatherer to a more sedentary agricultural subsistence strategy generally has been associated with a relative decline in mobility associated with the latter. Substantial efforts have been devoted towards inferring which musculoskeletal adaptations best reflect such a potential shift in mobility. The central role of bipedalism in human locomotion predisposes lower limb musculoskeletal anatomy to feature prominently in these inferences, although it is important to note that expressions of mobility in other areas of the postcranium (e.g., the upper limb) are gaining traction in the field when studying select populations (e.g., coastal or island groups). It is problematic that often mobility is not defined a priori in precise enough terms to facilitate comparability of results across studies. Typically, some derivation of an ethnographic definition of mobility is adopted, whether explicitly recognized or not (e.g., populations with greater mobility travel farther than populations with lesser mobility). Usually, in applying the ethnographic definition, unstated motivations for travel focus on resource acquisition or intergroup relationships (e.g., trading).
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