Have you ever done this? You’re on the floor, the music is pulsing, perhaps you’ve had a bit of liquid courage and your body seemingly moves instinctually to the beat. Suddenly, you consciously think to yourself, “This is really odd; why am I doing this? Why do any of us do this?” If so, you are asking a question that has managed to elude anthropologists and archaeologists and remains a continuing mystery. Dance exists in all cultures throughout the world. Almost everyone, some more than others, enjoy this most basic human behavior. There seems to be some mental satisfaction gained from moving rhythmically to music. This begs the question, if it is instinctual, does this mean we evolved to enjoy this behavior? Universal behaviors are not randomly acquired; we must have inherited this peculiarity through some need that pre-dates written history. Evidence through illustrations on ceramic fragments found in Pakistan and the Danube Basin suggest that dance may have originated approximately 5000-9000 years ago. The world’s earliest definitive evidence of dance is a bronze figurine of a dancing girl discovered in the 4,000-year-old ruin of Mohenjo-Daro, an archeological site situated in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. Scientists have also extrapolated information from the preserved ritual dances of preliterate societies. However, I wonder if it goes further back in history to a time before homo-sapiens even walked the Earth. Though numerous cultures could be used as examples to discuss the evolution of dance, for the sake of brevity, I will only briefly discuss the Native American cultures. Their dances offer some of the best illustrations of dance as a form of communication. They used it to tell stories about war, tribal history and celestial events and other tribal concerns. Also, dance was used to give thanks to the gods or call on them for their blessings and guidance in fertility, sowing of crops, and hunting. As illustrated in the Ghost Dance, a trance like state is achieved which is characteristic of Asian and African cultural dances can be witnessed. Were the Native Americans influenced by another ancient people? Until recently, it is believed that the first people to inhabit North America were the Clovis people some 13,100 years ago. However, recent archeological discoveries in the Paisley Caves of Oregon, pre- date this to 14,300. DNA that is closely related to the Native Americans has been discovered which has ties to Siberia and Asia. We know that those people came from the Middle East and from there, Mitochondrial DNA is traced to Human origins in Africa. Why did I deviate from the original topic of dance to genic lineage? To establish that all persons originated from Africa and we all come from the same genetic pool. Hence, do genes play a role in the development of dance and how it evolved? Scientists studied a large population of dancers and non-dancers and found that only the dancer population possessed two genes that are strongly associated with good social communication. Along with this, two other physical characteristics were also found in dancers. Serotonin levels tend to be higher which boost the moods in humans. Also, dancers tend to be more symmetrical which is associated with health and beauty. These three factors may be part of the answer as to why dancing in humans is culturally universal. Let’s start with social communication. The ability to communicate effectively was essential and necessary for survival in prehistoric times. Those who could effectively communicate were more successful when hunting and gathering so they were healthier and stronger. Also, successfully reading the physical cues of others would give rise to better cooperation and less conflict within a social group. Did prehistoric people ostracize those that did not benefit their colony? This would certainly decrease the number of offspring that did not possess that genetic quality. People with higher Serotonin levels tend to be more social, happier and well adjusted. They suffer from far less anxiety and tend to adapt well. One can see that those characteristics would have been beneficial if not almost essential to co-exist in any population be it human or otherwise. Lastly, symmetry in humans is largely associated with beauty. Numerous studies have been performed that prove both males and females are attracted to faces and bodies that are proportionate and symmetrical. But it’s not only beauty that is at play here. Many genetic deformities and diseases are associated with asymmetry. It stands to reason that this attraction evolved as a way to keep the population healthy and strong. Without a doubt, most humans love to dance; some more than others. Even though the experts may not have a definite answer as to when dance first came into existence, it is a distinct possibility that contemporary society inherited the ability and desire from our ancient ancestors. There is no longer a need for dance as a means of communication and survival and dance has now evolved to an art form as well as just a social past time . However, the group of women on the dance floor at their favorite hotspot, or, the couple dancing Salsa may seemingly be meaningless to many. Though, I would argue that their movements are more than just a way to entertain or call attention to their selves. They hearken back to our prehistoric ancestral need for physical communication as a means to survive. Many dancers would say that dance, even in contemporary society, is still necessary to their existence.