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Paleolithic Technology and Human Evolution

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Abstract

Human biological and cultural evolution are closely linked to technological innovations. Direct evidence for tool manufacture and use is absent before 2.5 million years ago (Ma), so reconstructions of australopithecine technology are based mainly on the behavior and anatomy of chimpanzees. Stone tool technology, robust australopithecines, and the genus Homo appeared almost simultaneously 2.5 Ma. Once this adaptive threshold was crossed, technological evolution was accompanied by increased brain size, population size, and geographical range. Aspects of behavior, economy, mental capacities, neurological functions, the origin of grammatical language, and social and symbolic systems have been inferred from the archaeological record of Paleolithic technology.

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... Despite its central importance, the origin of this type of cumulative culture within the human lineage is not well understood. Cumulative culture of know-how is argued to have emerged as early as the Oldowan industry (7)(8)(9)(10)(11), a stone tool technology that first appeared around 2.6 million years ago (12,13). ...
... The central component of Oldowan technology was the use of percussion (e.g., with a hammerstone, anvil, or both) to create sharp edges on stone, typically via a mechanical process known as conchoidal fracture (12,14,15). The conchoidal fracture of materials such as flint, basalt, and glass, among others, leaves physical traces on the transformed materials that can be distinguished from the outcomes of other, importantly, less evolutionarily important, fracturing processes. ...
... The conchoidal fracture of materials such as flint, basalt, and glass, among others, leaves physical traces on the transformed materials that can be distinguished from the outcomes of other, importantly, less evolutionarily important, fracturing processes. The consequence of conchoidal fracture is the removal of "flakes," which are visually identifiable by the presence of physical features such as a bulb of percussion, platform, and ripples (12,15). The repetition of this process within and across individuals resulted in assemblages of cores ( Fig. 1) and detached pieces (thus, a "simple" core and flake technology) (14). ...
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Early stone tool production, or knapping, techniques are claimed to be the earliest evidence for cultural transmission in the human lineage. Previous experimental studies have trained human participants to knap in conditions involving opportunities for cultural transmission. Subsequent knapping was then interpreted as evidence for a necessity of the provided cultural transmission opportunities for these techniques. However, a valid necessity claim requires showing that individual learning alone cannot lead to early knapping techniques. Here, we tested human participants (N = 28) in cultural isolation for the individual learning of early knapping techniques by providing them with relevant raw materials and a puzzle task as motivation. Twenty-five participants were technique naïve according to posttest questionnaires, yet they individually learned early knapping techniques, therewith producing and using core and flake tools. Early knapping techniques thus do not necessitate cultural transmission of know-how and could likewise have been individually derived among premodern hominins.
... Stone tools have normally been associated with human beings (Ambrose, 2001). To be more precise, tool use is an essential facet of the human intrinsic ability to interact with the environment, which is deeply ingrained in our evolutionary background (Federico & Brandimonte, 2020;Vaesen, 2012). ...
... As the expansion of the parietal cortex suggests visuospatial enhancement, different visuospatial abilities have been hypothesized for earlier human species (Bruner, 2021;Bruner & Iriki, 2016;Bruner & Lozano, 2014;Burke, 2012;Neubauer et al., 2018). Parallel to the increase in the complexity of tools (Muller et al., 2017), the human brain underwent a noticeable enlargement, as the ecological and cultural niche of early hominins was expanding (Ambrose, 2001;Biro et al., 2013;Toth & Schick, 2018). ...
... Tools have been present in human culture for at least two million years, and tool use is essential to interact with the environment, strongly determining our evolutionary fitness. Accordingly, technology has coevolved with human cognitive abilities (Ambrose, 2001;Federico & Brandimonte, 2020;Vaesen, 2012). One can hypothesize that this reciprocal influence between the brain and technology has generated an integrated system that evolved as a single functional unit. ...
Article
Humans are specialized in eye-hand coordination through a complex visuospatial system. When a tool is observed, the motor areas of the brain are activated and, when grasped, it is sensed as a part of the body. One approach to understanding the underlying mechanisms behind this process regards the analysis of visual attention. Vision influences the spatial interaction with tools and plays a crucial role in the perception of an object’s affordances. In this study, we employ eye-tracking technology to investigate whether Lower Palaeolithic stone tool morphology influences visual attention during visual exploration and manipulation. Our results suggest that the handaxe morphology has a moderate influence on the visual scanning of the tool. In contrast, visual exploration of the chopper is only influenced by the weight of the tool. The different visual behaviours exerted by these two technologies suggest divergences in the visuospatial process underlying the interaction with these tools.
... Gibson (2002:331) argues that "the fractionation of perceptions, actions, or ideas into fine component parts" underlies social intelligence, motor skills, language, and symbolism. Ambrose (2001) similarly suggests parallels between composite tools and language, based on hierarchy and compositionality. ...
... The five proposals which offer a common substrate based on segmenting and hierarchy (Greenfield 1991, Gibson 1991, Wilkins & Wakefield 1995, Ambrose 2001, Tversky et a/ 2004 are also the ones that do not mention laterality. Yet it can be useful to combine these concepts. ...
Thesis
p>Right-handedness is one of humankind's distinguishing features, but its origins are obscure. The archaeological record of non-Homo sapiens sapiens species provides evidence for bimanually coordinated hand-use patterns in the form of lateralised skeletons, use-wear on tools, and stone knapping. The underlying biomechanical assumptions of these were subjected to analytical validation using ethnographic parallels, biomechanics, and experimental data. The evidence shows robust handedness from Acheulean times onward, leaving a large gap in the dataset for more ancient hominin species. This dissertation explores in detail the handedness markers from lithic production, with a focus on the earliest hominin technology in order to bridge this gap. Knapping experiments were undertaken on three potential markers which could represent the earliest evidence for handedness: single-platform core rotation, large flake production, and tranchet flake production. A new methodology was created for tranchet flaking and was applied to a sample of 451 handaxes from the British Lower Palaeolithic site of Boxgrove, UK. A statistically significant bias toward left-struck tranchet negatives and flakes was found at Boxgrove. However, the experiments showed that knapping a coup du tranchet is not subject to biomechanical constraints relating to handedness. Similarly, the assumptions underlying the single-platform core rotation did not withstand experimental validation. The leftward tranchet preference at Boxgrove is interpreted as resulting from the well-established motor habits of skilled knappers. The possible connection between bimanually coordinated hand-use patterns and bi-hemispheric language is examined in a critical assessment of theories about the common substrate. A new model for the common substrate is proposed, based on the conceptual nature of the complementary roles of both sides, in which handedness and language are characterised by functional role differentiation.</p
... After the origin of UP-paralife, flaked-stone tool technology changed very slowly, with only two technology transitions within the initial ~2.4 million years of UP-paralife/SymBio-life coevolution (Oldowan ➜ Achulean at ~1.7 mya, and Achulean ➜ Mousterian at ~0.2 mya). This slow change is in sharp contrast to the rapid changes in flaked-stone tool technology (and also bonebased and metal-based technologies) detected in the archeological record within the most recent ~0.05 million years of coevolution (Ambrose 2001). Other forms of persistent-structural UPs, like modified wooden plant stems that do not fossilize, may have changed faster than flakedstone tools. ...
Preprint
When animals evolve sufficient intelligence and dexterity to be able to learn to fabricate utility products (UPs) like tools, the UP's they produce become part of an induced-reproduction system that intrinsically shares many life-like traits with biological organisms, including genome-like fabrication and operation information that is physically-encoded in the animal fabricator’s neural networks. When this set of life- like traits includes a sufficient capacity for system-improving cultural evolution (UP-evolvability), the UPs become ‘para-alive’, i.e., nearly alive, or a form of non-biological UP-paralife that is equivalent to the life- status of biological viruses, plasmids, and transposons. In the companion paper I focus on the evolution of UP-paralife in the context of modern, language-capable humans and its predicted evolution going forward in time (Rice 2022). Here I look backward in time and focus on the origin of UP-paralife and its subsequent coevolution with human intelligence. I begin by determining the pathways leading to the evolution of large brains in the rare lineages of biological life that have sufficient intelligence to learn to fabricate tools –a critical first step in the evolution of UP-paralife. The simplest forms of these learning- based UPs, made by species like chimpanzees and New Caledonian crows, represent only proto-UP- paralife because they lack sufficient UP-evolvability. Expanded UP-evolvability required a combination of three attributes that enabled continuous niche-expansion of the animal fabricator via a new and advanced form of UP-mediated teamwork (TW): i) self-domestication that facilitated TW among low-related individuals, ii) learned volitional words (protolanguage) that represent ephemeral UPs that coordinate TW, and iii) learned fabrication of simple flaked-stone tools with cutting and chopping capabilities (a UP to make other structural UPs) that expanded teammate phenotypes and TW capabilities. This specific triad of attributes is synergistic because each one acts as a TW-enhancer that can gradually erode different components of the three major constraints on TW operation and expansion: too much selfishness, insufficient coordination signals, and insufficient physical traits of teammates. The increase in UP- evolvability was transformative and marked the origin of UP-paralife and the initiation of coevolution between UP-paralife (cultural evolution) and the intelligence of its hominin/human symbiont (genetic evolution) that fostered 2.5 million years of: i) continuous brain size increase and niche-expansion within the genus Homo, and ii) parallel advances in the diversity, complexity and uses of UP-paralife. This coevolution also fostered evolutionary expansion of word-based communication, and eventually language, that acted in a catalyst-like manner to facilitate the evolution of increasingly complex forms of imagination, reasoning, mentalizing, and UP-generating technology. I next focus on the evolution of creativity in the human lineage –in the form of divergent thinking and creative imagination. I conclude that the evolution of this advanced cognitive feature required a preadaptation of sufficient intelligence and is the component of human cognition that was the major causal factor generating the greatly expanded diversity and complexity of UP-paralife currently associated with modern humans. Lastly, I apply my findings to the issue of the prevalence of extraterrestrial intelligent life. I conclude that any exoplanets with detected chemical life will very rarely (e.g., probability ~10-5 for a planet closely matching Earth’s characteristics) have evolved intelligence equalling or exceeding that of humans.
... Complex and flexible tool making and tool use are argued to be unique to homo sapiens ( Ambrose, 2001 ;Gibson et al., 1994 ;Oakley, 1956 ;Vaesen, 2012 ;Laland and Seed, 2021 ). Such abilities are aligned with observations of a dedicated left-lateralized network in human adult brain that is particularly relevant for processing tools (e.g., hammers, axes, scissors), which includes left lateral occipital-temporal cortex (LOTC), inferior and superior parietal lobule, inferior frontal gyrus, and premotor cortex. ...
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Tool understanding and use are supported by a dedicated left-lateralized, intrinsically connected network in the human adult brain. To examine this network's phylogenetic and ontogenetic origins, we compared resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) among regions subserving tool processing in human adults to rsFC among homologous regions in human neonates and macaque monkeys (adolescent and mature). These homologous regions formed an intrinsic network in human neonates, but not in macaques. Network topological patterns were highly similar between human adults and neonates, and significantly less so between humans and macaques. The premotor-parietal rsFC had most significant contribution to the formation of the neonatal tool network. These results suggest that an intrinsic brain network potentially supporting tool processing exists in the human brain prior to individual tool use experiences, and that the premotor-parietal functional connection in particular offers a brain basis for complex tool behaviors specific to humans.
... Stone tools are in the archaeological record from 3.4 Ma, even before Homo, 1 and the use of stone tools probably predated the split between hominins and panins. 2 Using tools (hereafter, tooling cf Fragaszy and Mangalam 3 ) is hypothesized to have improved hominins' foraging efficiency or access to high-quality foods. [4][5][6][7] This hypothesis is supported if feeding with tools positively contributes to diet quality in extant non-human primates or if foraging efficiency is increased by tooling. However, the contribution of tooling to non-human primates' foraging success has never been investigated through a direct analysis of nutritional ecology. ...
Article
Tool use is a fundamental feature of human evolution. Stone tools are in the archaeological record from 3.4 Ma, even before Homo,¹ and the use of stone tools probably predated the split between hominins and panins.² Using tools (hereafter, tooling cf Fragaszy and Mangalam³) is hypothesized to have improved hominins’ foraging efficiency or access to high-quality foods.4, 5, 6, 7 This hypothesis is supported if feeding with tools positively contributes to diet quality in extant non-human primates or if foraging efficiency is increased by tooling. However, the contribution of tooling to non-human primates’ foraging success has never been investigated through a direct analysis of nutritional ecology.⁸,⁹ We used multi-dimensional nutritional geometry to analyze energy and macronutrients (nonstructural carbohydrates, lipids, and protein) in the diets of wild capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinous) that routinely crack palm nuts with stone hammers.¹⁰,¹¹ We show that eating nuts obtained through tooling helps monkeys to achieve more consistent dietary intakes. Tooling increased the net energy gain by 50% and decreased the proportion of fiber ingested by 7%. Tooling also increased the daily non-protein energy intake. By contrast, protein intake remained constant across foraging days, suggesting a pattern of macronutrient regulation called protein prioritization, which is also found in contemporary humans.⁸,⁹ In addition, tooling reduced dispersion in the ratio of protein to non-protein energy, suggesting a role in macronutrient balancing. Our findings suggest that tooling prior to tool making could have substantially increased the nutritional security of ancestral hominins, sowing the seeds for cultural development.⁵,⁷ Video abstract Download : Download video (64MB)
... The construction of multi-part artifacts is viewed as an indicator of both cognitive capacities and certain important design decisions. Making complex composite tools may be a mental exercise analogous to grammar -it requires the capacity not just to collect all the elements in the same place but also to join them together in the correct order (Ambrose, 2001(Ambrose, , 2010. More broadly, the act(s) of creating and joining together parts of different materials requires integrating knowledge and actions at a scale unmatched by any other kind of Paleolithic technology, implying a range of high-level cognitive processes (Barham, 2013;Haidle et al., 2015;Hoffecker & Hoffecker, 2018;Wadley, 2013;Wynn 2009). ...
Article
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Hafting of stone tools and the creation of composite artifacts represent major developments in the early evolution of human technologies, with implications for artifact functions, human adaptation, and cognitive capabilities. A parallel issue is that of miniaturization of stone tools, which is argued to confer certain advantages, some of which are related to hafting. Our aim in this paper is to shift the discussion of these phenomena to the issues of re-hafting or retooling. We argue that important constraints on form and production of elements in composite implements come not just from the practice of hafting, but from the practice of rejuvenating implements by replacing broken or worn elements with similar-sized pieces. We further argue that absolute dimensional variation (tolerance) is the most important factor to consider in re-hafting or retooling. In this paper, we examine the hypothesis that there was a global increase in standardization in blade production over time related to increasing emphasis on hafting and retooling. Standardization is assessed in terms of both dimensional (sd), and relative (cv) measurements. The database for the study consists of > 100 assemblages, dating from the Middle Pleistocene to the Holocene. The data set includes a wide range of technologies ranging from comparatively simple to quite complex reduction. When the entire time range is examined, there is a decrease in blade size over time, and a parallel increase in standardization as measured by both sd and cv. However, the trend in cv is driven mainly by the late appearance of pressure blade technology; if pressure-blade technologies are excluded from the sample, there is no directional change in standardization as measured by cv. These findings suggest that prior to the widespread adoption of pressure blade technologies, Paleolithic knappers could create artifacts with finer dimensional tolerances only by making them smaller. The demands of increasing dependence on composite tools with replaceable parts could in turn explain long-term trends towards decreasing size in some classes of artifact.
... Throughout evolutionary history, humans have long embraced tools to free themselves from the limits of the human condition and extend the capabilities of the body self (Ambrose, 2001;Martel et al., 2021). Body representation (also known as body schema) is formed through the ongoing, mainly unconscious integration of proprioceptive signals and multisensory information (Maravita & Iriki, 2004). ...
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Tool use promotes tool embodiment and extends human body representation. Based on previous studies about tool embodiment, we aimed to explore whether smartphones could be integrated into body schema and extend body representation. We adapted the stimulus–response compatibility paradigm (Experiment 1a, n = 39; Experiment 1b, n = 44), the hand mental rotation paradigm (Experiment 2, n = 39; Experiment 3, n = 40), and the forearm bisection paradigm (Experiment 4, n = 40). The results revealed that participants showed a processing advantage for the picture of a smartphone held, indicating that smartphones could be integrated into the body schema. Moreover, the results showed that the perceived forearm length increased after imagining using a smartphone, indicating the extended body representation. Besides, we found no significant difference between high-frequency smartphone users and low-frequency smartphone users across the four experiments. These results underscored the unique role of smartphones in modifying the body schema and extending body representation, which was more potent than traditional tools and non-smartphones. Our findings provide empirical evidence for extended-self theory applied to smartphones and provide a novel insight into the impact of smartphone use on humans from the perspective of tool embodiment.
... In recent years, the application of prepared core technologies (PCTs) aimed at the production of predetermined blanks has been demonstrated in several Acheulian contexts (e.g., Santonja and Villa, 2006;Nowell and White, 2010;Picin et al., 2013;Terradillos-Bernal, 2013;Adler et al., 2014;Garcia, 2015;Hérisson et al., 2016;Shimelmitz et al., 2016;Zaidner and Weinstein-Evron, 2016;Goren-Inbar et al., 2018;Michalec et al., 2021;Rosenberg-Yefet et al., 2021;Shipton, 2022). It is often suggested that the invention and assimilation of PCTs, seen by some as the precursors of the Levallois method, reflect a significant shift in cognitive and technological capabilities of Paleolithic populations (Ambrose, 2001;Stout, 2010;Wynn and Coolidge, 2010;Eren and Lycett, 2012;Cole, 2015;Muller et al., 2017). ...
Article
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Prepared Core Technologies, often considered a hallmark of the Middle Paleolithic Mousterian, have recently been observed, to some extent, in many late Lower Paleolithic Acheulian sites. This may indicate a Lower Paleolithic origin of the Levallois method, although the circumstances leading to its emergence, spread and assimilation are still debated. We aim at contributing towards this intriguing issue by studying patterns of flint procurement and exploitation at Late Acheulian Jaljulia (Israel;~500-300 kya). We classified artifacts into flint types, using four samples: a general sample, bifaces, "regular" cores with one/two striking platforms, and prepared cores, divided into proto-Levallois, prepared (general) and discoid cores. A geologic survey located potential flint sources, and a petrographic analysis was used to assign flint types to sources. Our results show that while local Turonian flint of the Bi'na Formation dominates the general sample, selectivity in using specific flint types was observed, including among local materials. While brecciated flint types are especially common among handaxes and discoid cores, among proto-Levallois and prepared cores (general), fine-textured homogenous flint types are more common, suggesting that such flint types are better-suited when improved control over the end-product was desired. Based on our results, and following previous suggestions, we support the hypothesis that prepared core technologies in the Levant did not originate from one single technological trajectory. We support the idea that the production of predetermined blanks was based on knowledge gathered from several technological trajectories, including mainly biface shaping and the production of flakes from regular cores. This novel method was most likely transmitted time and again between individuals, gradually adjusting it to produce improved end-products. We see these conclusions as additional support for the view of prepared core technologies at the Late Acheulian as a demonstration of cumulative culture, and the existence of high-fidelity social learning mechanisms in practice already during the late Lower Paleolithic of the Levant.
... Stone tools have been part of human culture for over two million years and have influenced our evolutionary history (Semaw et al. 2003). Therefore, they have been generally used to define the genus Homo (Ambrose 2001;Federico and Brandimonte 2019). Tools are objects defined by their intrinsic properties that afford manipulability and their interaction with the environment (Rüther et al. 2014). ...
Article
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The role of experience during the exploration of lithic artefacts can be been investigated through multiple approaches. Knowledge can influence visual perception of the environment, whilst action “affordances” can be processed at the first sight of an object. In this study, we used eye tracking to analyse whether and to what extent archaeological knowledge can influence visuospatial attention whilst interacting with stone tools. Archaeologists were found to pay more visual attention to the middle region and the knapped surface. Differences between the visual exploration of choppers and handaxes were also found. Although the general pattern of distribution of the visual attention was similar to naïve subjects, participants with archaeological experience paid more attention to functionally relevant regions. Individuals with archaeological experience directed more attention to the upper region and the knapped surface of the tools, whilst naïve participants spent more time viewing the middle region. We conclude that although both groups could direct their attention to action relevant features in stone tools, functional affordances had a greater effect in subjects with previous experience. Affordances related to manipulation triggered lower attention and showed no differences between participants.
... Past cognition can be inferred by analysing the material culture prehistoric populations have left behind, under the assumption that behavioural patterns reflect cognitive processes. A wide range of past behaviours have been investigated in this perspective, such as subsistence strategies [5,6], stone and bone tool-making [7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15], containers [16], pigments [17][18][19][20][21], tool hafting [22,23], mortuary practices [24,25], ornamental objects [26][27][28], engraving and painting of cave walls and objects [29,30]. More recently, past cognition has become the subject of interdisciplinary research combining archaeological data with methods and concepts from neuroscience [31][32][33]. ...
Article
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It has been suggested that engraved abstract patterns dating from the Middle and Lower Palaeolithic served as means of representation and communication. Identifying the brain regions involved in visual processing of these engravings can provide insights into their function. In this study, brain activity was measured during perception of the earliest known Palaeolithic engraved patterns and compared to natural patterns mimicking human-made engravings. Participants were asked to categorise marks as being intentionally made by humans or due to natural processes (e.g. erosion, root etching). To simulate the putative familiarity of our ancestors with the marks, the responses of expert archaeologists and control participants were compared, allowing characterisation of the effect of previous knowledge on both behaviour and brain activity in perception of the marks. Besides a set of regions common to both groups and involved in visual analysis and decision-making, the experts exhibited greater activity in the inferior part of the lateral occipital cortex, ventral occipitotemporal cortex, and medial thalamic regions. These results are consistent with those reported in visual expertise studies, and confirm the importance of the integrative visual areas in the perception of the earliest abstract engravings. The attribution of a natural rather than human origin to the marks elicited greater activity in the salience network in both groups, reflecting the uncertainty and ambiguity in the perception of, and decision-making for, natural patterns. The activation of the salience network might also be related to the process at work in the attribution of an intention to the marks. The primary visual area was not specifically involved in the visual processing of engravings, which argued against its central role in the emergence of engraving production.
... They aim at improving the overall performance of the human-tool dyad. Although tools are considered as a defining characteristic of our species (Ambrose 2001), tool use is not only of interest to mankind, but also to the rest of the animal kingdom (Baber 2003). In the animal cognition literature tool use is the external employment of an unattached environmental object to alter more efficiently the form, position, or condition of another object, another organism, or the user itself when the user holds or carries the tool during or just prior to use and is responsible for the proper and effective orientation of the tool. ...
Article
The conception and creation of tools, their design, refinements and uses are traditionally viewed as being direct elaborations of inherent human capabilities. Here, we offer an alternative to this traditional perspective. Using a tool to complete any given task serves to change that task which, in turn, impacts and alters the tools’ user via the performance of current and subsequent tasks. Moreover, as each task evolves, humans have come to shape additional tools to respond accordingly. These ever-increasing complexifications then serve to stimulate expansion in inherent human cognitive capabilities themselves. Here, we do not view humans as the initial creators of tools. Rather, the a priori presence of tools in the ambient environment explains, ab initio, why the species homo sapiens has evolved in the way that history records. We thus propose that tools create humans. The subsequent symbiosis between humans and those tools, portrayed as a cumulative spiral structure, serves to frame this evolution of elaborative technologies that have been used across time to achieve socially desired objectives. From our premise, we envision evident lines of progress that can be anticipated for the future of this human-tool dyad.
... According to hominid fossil evidence, environmental changes contributed to the evolution of upright walking-as an effective adaptation to travel and forage in increasingly open and non-forested habitats-approximately between 8 million and 5 million years ago (Lovejoy, 1988;Wood & Harrison, 2011). This significant shift, along with the emergence of new patterns of PA, influenced brain expansion, as well as psychological and cultural evolution (Bramble & Lieberman, 2004;Lovejoy, 1988;Ruff et al., 1997), including the development of early stone tools around 2.5 million years ago (Ambrose, 2001) and language establishment about 50,000 years ago (Christiansen & Kirby, 2003;Lewin, 2009;Plummer, 2004;Semaw et al., 1997). Hence, the evolution of bipedalism (Gruss & Schmitt, 2015) promoted the development of new forms of physical movements in hunter-gatherer societies, resulting in more complex interconnections between cognitive-emotional systems and PA. ...
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Evolutionary psychology has provided a groundbreaking approach to understanding human cognitive architecture during the last few decades, yet this approach has been overlooked when investigating and designing cognitive enhancement therapies. In this article, we posit that understanding why integrated cognitive, emotional, and motor (CEM) systems evolved in the first place can help researchers develop more effective cognitive enhancement strategies. From an evolutionary perspective, a wide range of CEM systems was designed by natural selection to deal with adaptive problems and maximize reproductive success during the ancestral hunter-gatherer era. However, adaptive CEM systems lie largely dormant in modern life due to the environments and challenges in which they evolved no longer being relevant. In exploring this perspective, we present a theoretical model to explain why interconnected CEM systems evolved in ancestral environments. From this viewpoint, and considered in light of current cognitive enhancement strategies and successes involving cognitive training, neurostimulation, and physical exercise, we establish a novel framework for evolutionary cognitive enhancement (ECE) therapy that aims to reawaken adaptive CEM systems. Keywords: Adaptations; Ancestral Environments; Body Movements; Cognitive and Physical Training; Evolutionary Perspective
... Our argument is grounded in fundamental existential principles that underpin the evolution of living organisms. Viewed this way, simple artifacts, whether pebble tools, bifacially-flaked stones (e.g.,handaxes), or sharp-edged flakes, are "the almost inevitable by-products of least-effort flake-production using hardhammer percussion" (Shea,2007:219), echoing Ambrose (2001Ambrose ( :1749 who considered they "reflect leasteffort strategies". This observation is especially prescient with regard to interpreting stone artifacts at Early and Middle Pleistocene Paleolithic sites. ...
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A scientific paradigmatic account suffices to interpret behavioral evolution in early Homo. Cognitive surprises, favoring anomalous behavioral propensities to sporadic expression, can explain "snakes-and-ladders" appearances and disappearances of Paleolithic skills in the Early and Middle Pleistocene record. The account applies the principle of stationary action, which underpins the free energy principle, to self-organizing systems at an evolutionary timescale. Unusual personal attainments, often explained by invoking progressive ascent of evolutionary phylogenetic "ladders" of cognitive and technical abilities, could be disregarded in a hominin community that failed to imagine or articulate possible advantages for its survivability. Such failure, as well as diverse fortuitous demographic accidents, could erase from collective memory the recollection of exceptional individual conduct which disappeared down a "snake", so to speak, of the human evolutionary "puzzle". The puzzle discomforts paleoanthropologists. Some explain it away with the self-justifying assertion that separate paleospecies of Homo differentially possessed cognitive abilities that allegedly underlay the differential presence or absence in the Pleistocene archeological record of traces of particular behavioral outcomes or skills. An alternative methodological perspective, grounded in the fundamental relationships between organisms and their environments, affords a parsimonious, prosaic, deflationary account for appearances and disappearances of behavioral outcomes and skills.
... Other than some (potential) bone excavating tools from the early Pleistocene of South Africa (Backwell & d'Errico, 2008;d'Errico & Blackwell, 2003), there is little to no preserved evidence of organic tools from the pre-Oldowan and Oldowan periods. Generally, the organic tool repertoire of early hominins is predicted to have been similar to that of living primate species (Ambrose, 2001;Bandini et al., 2022;Haslam et al., 2009;Hovers, 2012;Rolian & Carvalho, 2017;Toth & Schick, 2009 (Bandini & Tennie, 2017Bandini et al., 2020Bandini et al., , 2021Reindl et al., 2016;Sterelny & Hiscock, in press;Westergaard & Suomi, 1993, 1995a. ...
Preprint
This preprint is a proceedings paper invited by the Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte (EN. The Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology, and Prehistory) and has been submitted to the publication Mitteilungen der Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte.
... The growth of populations and improvements in health and wellbeing (WB) are the driving forces of technological advancements [1][2][3][4]. A pertinent example of such progress is Thomas Newman's (1664-1729) atmospheric steam engine [5,6] that revolutionised the state of production, construction, and consumption. ...
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The health of humans and the planet are the most vital contemporary issues and essential components of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Scientists and professionals strive for integrated, evolving, healthy, and sustainable solutions encompassing biodiversity and industrial ecology, while offering viable economic attainments. The building industry, especially construction, is an extensive economic counterpart that largely influences health on various levels. On a practical scale, most direct or indirect impacts on health are related to conventional construction systems (CCSs), particularly their materialisations and implementation methods. Therefore, from a global perspective, emerging technologies or remodelled methods to accomplish sustainable use, reuse, and recycling, and improving the planet’s health to ensure the wellbeing of its inhabitants, are crucial. The current research is part of a broader study on “programmable construction systems” (PCSs), concentrating on “programmable construction materials” (PCMs) for health. Therefore, issues are reviewed, relevancies are addressed, and health-oriented concepts are discussed. Example concepts of formulation and the simplified toolkit creations follow the problems’ sources in a case study, providing insight into the resulting multiscale impacts on real-life practices. The results prove the method’s potential and validate its simplicity and applicability through an abstract examination of a newly built case study. Finally, the summarised outcomes of other extensive studies on societal preferences also confirm the feasibility of the hypothesis (i.e., the healthy materialisation) also from a social perspective.
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The hunting of wild animals for their meat has been a crucial activity in the evolution of humans. It continues to be an essential source of food and a generator of income for millions of Indigenous and rural communities worldwide. Conservationists rightly fear that excessive hunting of many animal species will cause their demise, as has already happened throughout the Anthropocene. Many species of large mammals and birds have been decimated or annihilated due to overhunting by humans. If such pressures continue, many other species will meet the same fate. Equally, if the use of wildlife resources is to continue by those who depend on it, sustainable practices must be implemented. These communities need to remain or become custodians of the wildlife resources within their lands, for their own well-being as well as for biodiversity in general. This title is also available via Open Access on Cambridge Core.
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Separating two or more aspects of an object via cutting was likely an important factor in the origin and evolution of flaked stone technology. In recent years experiments have demonstrated that several stone tool attributes can influence different kinds of cutting behaviour: slicing, cleaving, scraping, sawing, drilling, piercing and abrading. Here we experimentally assessed the role of stone flake plan- and profile-view gross-edge curvature in a controlled slicing task. We also assessed the role of edge length. A total of 21 participants, using 252 stone flakes with distinct gross-edge curvatures and edge lengths, were asked to cut through a standardized substrate, and their efficiency in the task was measured over time. Flakes with longer edge lengths increased the efficiency of the cutting task, but increasing either plan- or profile-view edge curvature decreased the efficiency of the cutting task. These results have implications for the emergence of particular tool forms or reduction sequences throughout the Pleistocene, and may in part explain why certain forms were favoured by Paleolithic people, leading to their convergent evolution or widespread transmission. © 2022 The Authors. Archaeometry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of University of Oxford.
Article
Stone tools are the result of goal-oriented actions involving cognitive processes. Because visual attention is a requirement in accurate tool-making, visual exploration can provide information about the relationship between perception and technological evolution. The purpose of this study is to analyse visual behaviour while an expert knapper produces different stone tools, using a portable eye tracking device. To understand where gaze was directed moment by moment, different areas of interest were defined. The preliminary results show that the most observed areas were the middle region, the knapped surface, the first face of the tool being struck and the next point of percussion. There were differences in visual exploration between choppers and handaxes during knapping. The distal position, upper region, cortex and the first face of the tool being struck were more explored in choppers, while the base, knapped surface and first tool’s face knapped were more viewed for handaxes. These areas can be considered to be the most salient features needed to control knapping, hence constituting action affordances for the successful production of stone tools.
Chapter
Neanderthals ate plants, they self-medicated using a range of medicinal plants, and they used complex material processing methods to construct composite objects with plant materials. While the evidence for the consumption of plants as food, medicine, and raw materials by Neanderthals is not abundant, by using a combination of direct and indirect methods, including recovery and analysis of macrobotanical and microfossil remains, biomolecular and genetic evidence and use wear patterns on teeth and tools, reconstruction of the basic premises of their plant use can be partially reconstructed. This provides nuanced insights into their cognitive and technological abilities and the deep ecological knowledge that was the foundation of their existence.
Article
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Intelligent manipulation of handheld tools marks a major discontinuity between humans and our closest ancestors. Here we identified neural representations about how tools are typically manipulated within left anterior temporal cortex, by shifting a searchlight classifier through whole-brain real action fMRI data when participants grasped 3D-printed tools in ways considered typical for use (i.e., by their handle). These neural representations were automatically evocated as task performance did not require semantic processing. In fact, findings from a behavioural motion-capture experiment confirmed that actions with tools (relative to non-tool) incurred additional processing costs, as would be suspected if semantic areas are being automatically engaged. These results substantiate theories of semantic cognition that claim the anterior temporal cortex combines sensorimotor and semantic content for advanced behaviours like tool manipulation.
Article
The present discussion aims at the exposition of the nature as well as the communicative insights of the Pleistocene stone artifacts reported so far from different Paleolithic sites in Manipur, at two levels; first, an assessment of the intelligence level of the authors who made these lithic artifacts is attempted by employing Piagetian theory of genetic epistemology; and secondly, a simple endeavor to surmise the reduction strategies of the Paleolithic artifacts. It is likely that the authors of the Paleolithic core tools (especially bifacial/s) in Manipur applied both the pre-operational means of organization and operational spatial organization in making the tools. The Mode 1 to 4 technologies in all the Paleolithic assemblages are relatively simple and characterized by the less-refined form of core and flake (including blade) reduction technologies, geared towards attaining greater control over either the debitage or faconnage operational systems.
Article
Ergonomics is identified as that discipline which is most particularly focused upon the “laws of work’. Indeed, this is the etymological origins from which the name of the science is derived. In consequence, any future consideration of such an area of research endeavor must constantly re-examine and re-evaluate what is meant by the term ‘work’. The present article, that features an individual perspective, attacks this challenge through a prospective vision of what work may come. This vision of ‘futurework’ proves to be a rather bleak one. For, as is explained, the driving economic forces emphasize and embrace the greater utility of automated, and now growing autonomous systems, to accomplish the tasks which connote work. Often cast in opposition to the efficiency/profit imperative are those social forces for which human-centered endeavors, such as Ergonomics, advocate. Optimistic perspectives seek to harmonize these conflicting forces and envisage a form of harmonious cooperation between humans and machines of increasing ‘intelligence’ and capability. The current work explores and evaluates why that positive narrative is unlikely to represent the actuality of coming events, at least within the foreseeable future.
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In the context of observational social learning during stone-tool making beginning over 1 million years ago, it is shown how early humans unconsciously learned intertwined social cognition and technology as elements of cumulative culture. To support this idea, the predictive, cerebellar mechanism of socialization and capacity for technological advancement toward the norms of culture is shown to be sequence detection in cerebellar internal models, which are sent to the cerebral cortex to solve problems. It is shown how diminished observational learning among children who experience early life in orphanages or excessive television viewing results in lower grades, poor socialization, and diminished executive control in working memory. It is concluded that the essential components of cumulative culture are learned and sustained not by the cerebral cortex alone, as many traditionally believe, but are learned through repetitious improvements in prediction and control by internal models in the cerebellum. Following this perspective, new explanations of cumulative culture are discussed: (1) how internal models are blended to produce the creative, forward advances in cumulative culture; (2) how the recent evolutionary expansion of the cerebellum was involved in the coevolution of earliest stone tools, socialization, and technology—leading to the origin of cumulative culture, and (3) how excessive television viewing may represent a cultural shift that diminishes the observational learning of internal models of the behavior of others and thus may result in a mild, parallel version of Schmahmann’s cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome.
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Hand-eye coordination and visuospatial integration are among the numerous skills that define human beings. These two properties are the result of a shared evolution of the visual and tactile senses, and are directly related to manipulation. The use of tools, for example, requires the combination of these two characteristics. From an evolutionary point of view, the relationship between manipulation, hand anatomy and tools has mainly been studied. However, the other source of information, vision, has not been explored yet. Therefore, the main aim of this doctoral thesis is to find out visuospatial changes in the archaeological record through the analysis of the visual behaviour in relation to Lower Palaeolithic stone tools. Although cognitive abilities cannot be studied directly, the analysis of eye movements provides indirect evidence of the amount of visuospatial attention allocated to exploring a given scene. Likewise, the archaeological record can provide information on the visuospatial relationship between the individual and the technology. Therefore, in this research work, a series of visual attention studies are conducted in different scanning conditions, using different eye-tracking devices to analyse eye movements and visual attention. The exploration situations analysed include passive observation of photographs of tools, observation of tools in peripersonal space, manipulation and tactile exploration of tools, and finally, tool-making. For this purpose, a total of 215 participants have collaborated in six experimental studies, carried out at the National Centre for Research on Human Evolution (CENIEH, Burgos) and the University of Lincoln (UK). Apart from two studies focused on experience with lithic technology, all experimental processes are carried out on individuals with no archaeological knowledge in order to avoid biases that influence primary visual exploration. Experimental studies used examples of the first stone tool technologies, like choppers and handaxes. The different studies of visual perception reveal that attention is not affected by the most prominent properties of the tools, instead, the tools show a characteristic pattern of observation. Furthermore, the distribution of visuospatial attention is similar in all the scanning states analysed. Stone tools trigger the same visual response regardless of the shown mode (image or replica) or location (peripersonal or personal space). In this sense, the functional areas of the tools are more observed than those areas associated with manipulation, despite the widely known tendency to observe the centre of the artefacts. The results obtained suggest that visual attention is affected by the processing of affordances or action possibilities of the tools. Despite the fact that the gaze is generally directed to the functional regions of prehistoric tools, there are differences between the examples of the technological modes analysed. Choppers are more observed in the function-associated zones, while handaxes need more exploration in the manipulative regions. We propose that the differences in the distribution of visuospatial attention according to the technological element observed correspond to the predominance of one type of affordance over another. Choppers require more executive processing while handaxes require more reflection on grasping affordances. In addition, functional areas attract a higher degree of visuospatial attention in participants with lithic industry knowledge. This behaviour is a consequence of previous experience about potential uses and modes of manipulation. Another aspect to consider concerns the influence of the morphology of the tool on its perception. From the quantification of the shape, as well as other structural and functional variables, it has been found that the characteristics that most affect exploration are the size, weight and morphology of the tool base. However, shape does not have the same influence on choppers and handaxes. We suggest that the simpler morphology of choppers allows the focus to be on the functional area of the tool, as a complex manipulation strategy is not necessary. In this case, the scanning pattern of the worked pebbles is exclusively affected by weight. On the other hand, the shape and size of the handaxes directly influence the visual scanning pattern. Small and elongated handaxes allow for easier handling of the tool. Therefore, we propose that functional affordances condition the first tools, while the affordances associated with manipulation become more important as potential uses and morphological complexity increase. Finally, the role of vision during lithic tool manufacture is considered. Preliminary results indicate that visual behaviour is different depending on the tool manufactured. This research work constitutes the first study on the visual response triggered by lithic technology. Several conclusions can be considered on the basis of the studies developed. At the methodological level, eye tracking is established as a useful technology to study one of the main human cognitive activities, visual perception. On the other hand, the evidence found can be related to different visuospatial processing, and therefore, to different cognitive capacities required according to the lithic technology explored.
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The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Article
Tool use is one of the defining traits of human cognition that sets our species apart from other animals. A novel computational framework may enable robots to use tools as intelligently as humans do.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
Living in a Dangerous Climate provides a journey through human and Earth history, showing how a changing climate has affected human evolution and society. Is it possible for humanity to evolve quickly, or is slow, gradual, genetic evolution the only way we change? Why did all other Homo species go extinct while Homo sapiens became dominant? How did agriculture, domestication and the use of fossil fuels affect humanity's growing dominance? Do today's dominant societies – devoted as they are to Darwinism and 'survival of the fittest' – contribute to our current failure to meet the hazards of a dangerous climate? Unique and thought provoking, the book links scientific knowledge and perspectives of evolution, climate change and economics in a way that is accessible and exciting for the general reader. The book is also valuable for courses on climate change, human evolution and environmental science.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
Chapter
The discovery of the first species of African hominin, Australopithecus africanus, from Taung, South Africa in 1924, launched the study of fossil man in Africa. New discoveries continue to confirm the importance of this region to our understanding of human evolution. Outlining major developments since Raymond Dart's description of the Taung skull and, in particular, the impact of the pioneering work of Phillip V. Tobias, this book will be a valuable companion for students and researchers of human origins. It presents a summary of the current state of palaeoanthropology, reviewing the ideas that are central to the field, and provides a perspective on how future developments will shape our knowledge about hominin emergence in Africa. A wide range of key themes are covered, from the earliest fossils from Chad and Kenya, to the origins of bipedalism and the debate about how and where modern humans evolved and dispersed across Africa.
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Inovação é se tornou uma palavra de ordem no século XXI e está intimamente relacionado à criatividade. As crianças são reconhecidamente usuárias de tecnologias, mas apresentam geralmente desempenho fraco nas tarefas de uso de ferramentas que exijam inovação. Neste artigo, aborda-se a contribuição da abordagem comparativa para o entendimento da inovação na perspectiva do desenvolvimento humano, além de relacionar a inovação dentro do processo de aprendizagem. Finalmente, discute-se as implicações educacionais dos estudos de inovação comportamental para a Educação Infantil. Palavras-Chave: Criatividade, Educação Infantil, BNCC, Psicologia da Tecnologia.
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Stone artifacts from the Bose basin, South China, are associated with tektites dated to 803,000 +/- 3000 years ago and represent the oldest known Large cutting tools (LCTs) in East Asia. Bose toolmaking is compatible with Mode 2 (Acheulean) technologies in Africa in its targeted manufacture and biased spatial distribution of LCTs, Large-scale flaking, and high flake scar counts. Acheulean-Like tools in the mid-Pleistocene of South China imply that Mode 2 technical advances were manifested in East Asia contemporaneously with handaxe technology in Africa and western Eurasia. Bose Lithic technology is associated with a tektite airfall and forest burning.
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A SCRAPER and a Levallois flake, discovered in the Mousterian levels (dated around 40,000 BC) of the Umm el Tlel site in Syria, were submitted to an organic geochemieal study to identify a black substance occurring on their surface. The shape of this black substance suggests that the organic traces are remnants of a hafting material used by Middle Palaeolithic people to glue handles onto their tools. Gas chromatography–mass spectro-metry (GC–MS) analyses of both C15+ alkanes and C15+ aromatics confirm that the black substance is a highly weathered bitumen, the source of which remains unknown. According to some diagnostic molecular information (for example, the occurrence of fluoranthene and pyrene), it seems that the raw bitumen used has been subjected to extreme temperature. The scraper and the Levallois flake described here are, to the best of our knowledge, the first reported examples of Middle Palaeolithic artefacts hutted with bitumen to handles.
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Primates are noted for their mental abilities but the selective basis for such traits has remained obscure. It is hypothesized that the element of predictability associated with the spatial and temporal distribution patterns of plant foods in tropical forests has served to stimulate mental development in primates taking much of their food from the first trophic level. Primates able to remember the locations and phenological patterns of a wide variety of plant foods could move directly to such foods when and where available without wasting time and energy in random search. This would enhance overall foraging success by lowering procurement costs associated with a varied and patchily distributed plant diet. Membership in a cohesive social unit, that utilized the same supplying area over many consecutive generations, would also enhance foraging success by serving to transmit important information about diet to close kin. Data on the foraging behavior of howler and spider monkeys are presented to test certain implications of this hypothesis. Similar selective pressures, but applied to foods from the second trophic level, may have been of critical importance in the mental development of hominids. [primates, evolution, intelligence, plant foods, Aleles, Alouatta]
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During the first two years of human life a common neural substrate (roughly Broca's area) underlies the hierarchical organization of elements in the development of speech as well as the capacity to combine objects manually, including tool use. Subsequent cortical differentiation, beginning at age two, creates distinct, relatively modularized capacities for linguistic grammar and more complex combination of objects. An evolutionary homologue of the neural substrate for language production and manual action is hypothesized to have provided a foundation for the evolution of language before the divergence of the hominids and the great apes. Support comes from the discovery of a Broca's area homologue and related neural circuits in contemporary primates. In addition, chimpanzees have an identical constraint on hierarchical complexity in both tool use and symbol combination. Their performance matches that of the two-year-old child who has not yet developed the neural circuits for complex grammar and complex manual combination of objects.
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Despite a massive endeavour, the problem of modern human origins not only remains unresolved, but is usually reduced to “Out of Africa” versus multiregional evolution. Not all would agree, but evidence for a single recent origin is accumulating. Here, we want to go beyond this debate and explore within the “Out of Africa” framework an issue that has not been fully addressed: the mechanism by which modern human diversity has developed. We believe there is no clear rubicon of modern Homo sapiens, and that multiple dispersals occurred from a morphologically variable population in Africa. Pre-existing African diversity is thus crucial to the way human diversity developed outside Africa. The pattern of diversity—behavioural, linguistic, morphological and genetic—can be interpreted as the result of dispersals, colonisation, differentiation and subsequent dispersals overlaid on former population ranges. The first dispersals would have originated in Africa from where two different geographical routes were possible, one through Ethiopia/Arabia towards South Asia, and one through North Africa/Middle East towards Eurasia.
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The discovery of fossil hand bones from an early human ancestor at Olduvai Gorge in 1960, at the same level as primitive stone tools, generated a debate about the role of tools in the evolution of the human hand that has raged to the present day. Could the Olduvai hand have made the tools? Did the human hand evolve as an adaptation to tool making and tool use? The debate has been fueled by anatomical studies comparing living and fossil human and nonhuman primate hands, and by experimental observations. These have assessed the relative abilities of apes and humans to manufacture the Oldowan tools, but consensus has been hampered by disagreements about how to translate experimental data from living species into quantitative models for predicting the performance of fossil hands. Such models are now beginning to take shape as new techniques are applied to the capture, management and analysis of data on kinetic and kinematic variables ranging from hand joint structure, muscle mechanics, and the distribution and density of bone to joint movements and muscle recruitment during manipulative behaviour. The systematic comparative studies are highlighting a functional complex of features in the human hand facilitating a distinctive repertoire of grips that are apparently more effective for stone tool making than grips characterising various nonhuman primate species. The new techniques are identifying skeletal variables whose form may provide clues to the potential of fossil hominid hands for one-handed firm precision grips and fine precision manoeuvering movements, both of which are essential for habitual and effective tool making and tool use.
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A long-term collaborative study by palaeolithic archaeologists and cognitive psychologists has continued in its investigations into the stone tool-making and tool-using abilities of a captive bonobo (a 180 pound male, named Kanzi, aged 12 years at the time of experiments reported here). A major focus of this study has been examination of the lithic reduction strategy over time and detailed analysis of the artefacts Kanzi has produced in 2 years of experimentation since our original report. Kanzi has exhibited marked improvement in his stone-working skills, although to date the artefacts he has produced still contrast with early hominid-produced artefacts in a number of attributes. Statistical analysis revealed that Kanzi is clearly preferentially selecting larger, heavier pieces of debitage (flakes and fragments) for use as tools.
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Marine records of African climate variability document a shift toward more arid conditions after 2.8 million years ago (Ma), evidently resulting from remote forcing by cold North Atlantic sea-surface temperatures associated with the onset of Northern Hemisphere glacial cycles. African climate before 2.8 Ma was regulated by low-latitude insolation forcing of monsoonal climate due to Earth orbital precession. Major steps in the evolution of African hominids and other vertebrates are coincident with shifts to more arid, open conditions near 2.8 Ma, 1.7 Ma, and 1.0 Ma, suggesting that some Pliocene (Plio)-Pleistocene speciation events may have been climatically mediated.
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Fossils and artifacts recovered from the middle Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar depression sample the Middle Pleistocene transition from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens. Ar/Ar ages, biostratigraphy, and tephrachronology from this area indicate that the Pleistocene Bodo hominid cranium and newer specimens are approximately 0.6 million years old. Only Oldowan chopper and flake assemblages are present in the lower stratigraphic units, but Acheulean bifacial artifacts are consistently prevalent and widespread in directly overlying deposits. This technological transition is related to a shift in sedimentary regime, supporting the hypothesis that Middle Pleistocene Oldowan assemblages represent a behavioral facies of the Acheulean industrial complex.
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One of the most troubling problems in archaeology is to determine the manner and content of prehistoric thought. A fundamental challenge is to develop the theory, methodology and tools to understand human cognition. Cognitive archaeology as a subject is still in its infancy, and archaeologists are adopting a variety of approaches. One direction has been to develop an 'interpretationist', anti-scientific, literary approach. Another has been to use a linguistic framework and develop a hermeneutic, semiotic approach. A third approach develops a new direction in prehistoric cognitive research which is rooted in the scientific tradition and in an empirical methodology. It draws upon the cognitive, the mathematical and the computer sciences in an attempt to understand what techniques can be used appropriately on archaeological data, and how to implement them efficiently. This is the approach adopted by the contributors to The Ancient Mind. Together, they begin to develop a science of cognitive archaeology.
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Discovery of the uses and later the invention of fire-making are fundamental to humanity. Following reports over the last decade of traces of fire found on Lower Pleistocene archaeological sites in eastern Africa, the dating of the control of fire by hominids has become a controversial issue. In this paper we critically review the contexts and, in the light of a battery of archaeometric techniques, the nature of reported instances of fire from Koobi Fora and Chesowanja in Kenya, and from Gadeb and the Middle Awash in Ethiopia. We conclude with a discussion of the roles fire may have played in the lifeways of early Pleistocene savanna-living hominids.
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Experiments involving the manufacture and use of stone tools are described. The original tools that served as models came from two sites in upper bed IV at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. The following conclusions are drawn. Widespread use of terms such as 'crude' or 'refined' in describing stone tools tells us nothing of the technical level achieved by the makers of the assemblages. The different qualities of the available raw materials, the forms in which they occur and how they function when used may have influenced the tool maker's designs and the morphology of the tools. The experiments suggest uses for the tools that are relevant to our understanding of what is found on some archaeological sites.
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Despite the rapid expansion of archaeological knowledge of the Paleolithic over the past several decades, some generalized interpretive frameworks inherited from previous generations of researchers are remarkably tenacious. One of the most persistent of these is the assumed correlation between blade technologies, Upper Paleolithic industries, and anatomically (and behaviorally) modern humans. In this paper, we review some of the evidence for the production of early blade technologies in Eurasia and Africa dating to the late Lower and the Middle Paleolithic. The basic techniques for blade production appeared thousands of years before the Upper Paleolithic, and there is no justification for linking blades per se to any particular aspect of hominid anatomy or to any major change in the behavioral capacities of hominids. It is true that blades came to dominate the archaeological records of western Eurasia and Africa after 40,000 years ago, perhaps as a consequence of increasing reliance on complex composite tools during the Upper Paleolithic. At the same time, evidence from other regions of the world demonstrates that evolutionary trends in Pleistocene Eurasia were historically contingent and not universal. [Middle Paleolithic, Upper Paleolithic, blade technology, human evolution, hominid behavior and capacities]
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Brain tissue is metabolically expensive, but there is no significant correlation between relative basal metabolic rate and relative brain size in humans and other encephalized mammals. The expensive-tissue suggests that the metabolic requirements of relatively large brains are offset by a corresponding reduction of the gut. The splanchnic organs (liver and gastro-intestinal tract) are as metabolically expensive organs in the human body that is markedly small in relation to body size. Gut size is highly correlated with diet, and relatively small guts are compatible only with high-quality, easy-to-digest food. The often -cited relationship between diet and relative brain size is more properly viewed as a relationship between relative brain size and relative gut size, the latter being determined by dietary quality. No matter what is selecting for relatively large brains in humans and other primates, they cannot be achieved without a shift to a high-quality diet unless there is a rise in the metabolic rate. Therefore the incorporation of increasingly greater amounts of animal products into the diet was essential in the evolution of the large human brain.
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Archaeological excavations at the site of Dmanisi in the Republic of Georgia have uncovered two partial early Pleistocene hominid crania. The new fossils consist of a relatively complete cranium and a second relatively complete calvaria from the same site and stratigraphic unit that yielded a hominid mandible in 1991. In contrast with the uncertain taxonomic affinity of the mandible, the new fossils are comparable in size and morphology with Homo ergaster from Koobi Fora, Kenya. Paleontological, archaeological, geochronological, and paleomagnetic data from Dmanisi all indicate an earliest Pleistocene age of about 1.7 million years ago, supporting correlation of the new specimens with the Koobi Fora fossils. The Dmanisi fossils, in contrast with Pleistocene hominids from Western Europe and Eastern Asia, show clear African affinity and may represent the species that first migrated out of Africa.
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Our general conclusion is simply stated: many lineages display phyletic size increase; allometric changes almost always accompany increase in body size. We cannot judge adaptation until we separate such changes into those required by increasing size and those serving as special adaptations to changing environments. In our view, the three australopithecines are, in a number of features, scaled variants of the "same" animal. In these characters, A. africanus is no more "advanced" than the larger, more robust forms. The one early hominid to show a significant departure from this adaptive pattern toward later hominids—cranially, dentally, and postcranially—is H. habilis from East Africa. The australopithecines, one of which was probably a precursor of the Homolineage, were apparently a successful group of basically vegetarian hominids, more advanced behaviorally than apes (87), but not hunter-gatherers. The fossil hominids of Africa fall into two major groupings. One probable lineage, the australopithecines, apparently became extinct without issue; the other evolved to modern man. Both groups displayed steady increase in body size. We consider quantitatively two key characters of the hominid skull: cranial capacity and cheek tooth size. The variables are allometrically related to body size in both lineages. In australopithecines, the manner of relative growth neatly meets the predictions for functional equivalence over a wide range of sizes (negative allometry of cranial capacity with a slope against body weight of 0.2 to 0.4 and positive allometry of postcanine area with a slope near 0.75). In the A. africanus to H. sapiens lineage, cranial capacity increases with positive allometry (slope 1.73) while cheek teeth decrease absolutely (slope — 0.725). Clearly, these are special adaptations unrelated to the physical requirements of increasing body size. We examined qualitatively other features, which also seem to vary allometrically. Of course, many characters should be studied quantitatively, but we think that the scheme outlined here should be treated as the null hypothesis to be disproved.
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The wild chimpanzees of the Tai National Park, Ivory Coast, present an important sex difference in nut-cracking behavior: Adult females more frequently perform the two most difficult techniques, coula cracking in the tree and panda cracking. Adult females are more efficient than males in all the three nut-cracking techniques for one or the other measure of efficiency (number of hits/nut and number of nuts opened/min). The analysis of 5 hypotheses which may explain these differences, stresses the role of the difference of sociability and sexual dimorphism between the sexes, both negatively affecting the nut-cracking techniques and performance of the adult males. We shall discuss the role of these factors on the evolution of the division of labor and food-sharing in the chimpanzee and in early hominids.
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The functions of the stone artefacts made and used by early hominids has been a matter for speculation. However, recent experimental work has demonstrated that microscopically distinct wear-polishes form on tools of cryptocrystalline silica when used on different materials, and that these microwear polishes survive on ancient implements1–3. We have now examined 54 artefacts from five early Pleistocene archaeological sites, dated to 1.5 Myr ago, in the Koobi Fora region of Kenya for microwear polishes and other traces of use. Wear traces were found on nine artefacts, variously resembling traces induced experimentally by cutting soft animal tissue and soft plant material and by scraping and sawing wood. These results greatly extend the time range for which microwear polish analysis is applicable and increase the evidence of early hominid adaptation.
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The importance of meat-eating in human evolution has long been a controversial subject1–4. The best available evidence of hominid activities between 2 and 1.5 Myr ago is the archaeological record from two East African localities, Olduvai Gorge5, Tanzania, and Koobi Fora6, Kenya, which consists of scattered stone artefacts and fragmentary animal bones. The question7,8 of functional association between juxtaposed artefacts and bones would be largely settled if hominid-induced modifications were present on some bones. Comparative analyses of archaeological bone assemblages from Olduvai Gorge and Koobi Fora and of various modern bone assemblages with known taphonomic histories reveal direct evidence of early hominid butchering and marrow-processing activities.
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Since stone tool cut marks and carnivore tooth marks were first described systematically on Plio-Pleistocene archaeological bone1,2, bone surface modification has played a prominent role in interpreting early archaeological site formation and hominid behaviour3–15. Here we introduce a new class of bone surface modification, which we call percussion marks. Percussion marks were produced during experimental breakage of marrow bones, and occur as pits or grooves impressed on a bone's surface by natural protrusions on the granitic hammerstone and anvil used. Although percussion marks can superficially mimic carnivore tooth marks, they nonetheless are closely associated with hammerstone impact notches and show consistent micromorphological features which distinguish them from tooth marks and other classes of bone surface modification. Given indications of prehistoric hammer-stone breakage of marrow bones1,7, an awareness of percussion marks is critical for accurately identifying the biological agents of bone modification at archaeological sites and provides a new diagnostic of carcass processing by hominids.
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Use of archaeological evidence in discussions of the origin and evolution of grammar has proved unconvincing largely because of undeveloped theoretical assumptions about the cognitive connection between language and tool behaviour. This paper examines the cognitive basis of tool use and tool making and concludes that there is no sound theoretical basis for inferring grammatical abilities from prehistoric stone tools. Our knowledge concerning the cognitive basis of tool behaviour can, however, be used to document evolutionary developments in hominid cognition. Analysis of early biface culture, for example, reveals a cognitive complexity greater than that demonstrable for the earlier Oldowan or for modern apes.
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Variability selection (abbreviated as VS) is a process considered to link adaptive change to large degrees of environment variability. Its application to hominid evolution is based, in part, on the pronounced rise in environmental remodeling that took place over the past several million years. The VS hypothesis differs from prior views of hominid evolution, which stress the consistent selective effects associated with specific habitats or directional trends (e.g., woodland, savanna expansion, cooling). According to the VS hypothesis, wide fluctuations over time created a growing disparity in adaptive conditions. Inconsistency in selection eventually caused habitat-specific adaptations to be replaced by structures and behaviors responsive to complex environmental change. Key hominid adaptations, in fact, emerged during times of heightened variability. Early bipedality, encephalized brains, and complex human sociality appear to signify a sequence of VS adaptations—i.e., a ratcheting up of versatility and responsiveness to novel environments experienced over the past 6 million years. The adaptive results of VS cannot be extrapolated from selection within a single environmental shift or relatively stable habitat. If some complex traits indeed require disparities in adaptive setting (and relative fitness) in order to evolve, the VS idea counters the prevailing view that adaptive change necessitates long-term, directional consistency in selection. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Article
This article documents an unexpected regional difference in the shapes of later Acheulean hand-axes. Almost 1,200 handaxes from 17 sites located in Europe, East Africa, India, and the Near East were measured using a polar coordinate technique and compared using discriminant analysis and analysis of variance. One group of handaxes, those from Israel, clearly stood apart. The reasons for this distinction are unclear but may relate to raw material, time, or, perhaps, cultural tradition.
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This review begins by setting out the context and the scope of human evolution. Several classes of evidence, morphological, molecular, and genetic, support a particularly close relationship between modern humans and the species within the genus Pan, the chimpanzee. Thus human evolution is the study of the lineage, or clade, comprising species more closely related to modern humans than to chimpanzees. Its stem species is the so-called ‘common hominin ancestor’, and its only extant member is Homo sapiens. This clade contains all the species more closely-related to modern humans than to any other living primate. Until recently, these species were all subsumed into a family, Hominidae, but this group is now more usually recognised as a tribe, the Hominini. The rest of the review sets out the formal nomenclature, history of discovery, and information about the characteristic morphology, and its behavioural implications, of the species presently included in the human clade. The taxa are considered within their assigned genera, beginning with the most primitive and finishing with Homo. Within genera, species are presented in order of geological age. The entries conclude with a list of the more important items of fossil evidence, and a summary of relevant taxonomic issues.
Article
The hypothesis that the principal varieties of Middle Paleolithic scrapers reflect varying degrees of resharpening and rejuvenation, rather than discrete emic types, has generated considerably controversy over the past decade. While there have been certain misunderstandings surrounding the proposed models of scraper reduction, this controversy also reflects different approaches taken by prehistorians in interpreting lithic artifacts. Placing the notion of scraper reduction in the context of lithic processes generally known as the Frison Effect, this article presents the background and intellectual context of this interpretation and attempts to clarify the models themselves and their test implications. It also reviews and summarizes data generated by several independent tests of the hypothesis and presents new data bearing on this question.
Article
Early Stone Age assemblages called “Oldowan” and early “Developed Oldowan” are discussed, based on the results of a long-term study of Plio-Pleistocene sites at Koobi Fora, Kenya and an extensive experimental research program of replicating and using early stone artifact forms. Five major conclusions are drawn from this investigation: (1) many Oldowan core forms (“core-tools”) are probably simple by-products of flake manufacture rather than representations of stylistic norms; (2) flakes and retouched flakes - were essential tools in Oldowan technology, particularly for activities involving cutting; (3) this simple technology does not necessarily reflect the cognitive abilities of the early hominids that manufactured the stone artifacts; (4) there is evidence to show that Oldowan technology can be viewed as a simple curated one, in which raw material was intentionally carried from place to place for future use; (5) early hominid populations that made and used stone implements were not necessarily dependent upon them for their survival.
Article
This study introduces to archaeology a new experimental technique for examining the relationship between stone tool-making and brain function. The principal focus of this exploratory study was the development of effective methods for the identification and examination of the regions of the modern human brain recruited during the manufacture of simple (Oldowan or Mode I) stone tools. The functional brain imaging technique employed, Positron Emission Tomography (PET), examines task-related brain activity by assessing changes in regional cerebral blood flow during specific tasks. The single-subject study reported here represents a heuristic, initial exploration of this subject. Results indicate that during stone tool-making there was heavy activation of cortical and subcortical regions of the brain associated with motor and somatosensory processing. Especially interesting was the high degree of activation in areas known to be involved with complex spatial cognition requiring integration of diverse sensory inputs (e.g. vision, touch, and proprioception, or sense of body position and motion). Expansion of such higher-order association areas has been particularly important during the course of human evolution. This single-subject pilot study demonstrates the application of the PET brain imaging technique to the study of early stone technologies and suggests hypotheses to be tested in more comprehensive studies in the future.
Article
Evidence from several archaeological sites in sub-Saharan Africa suggests that the transition to modern human technology, marked by the change from the Middle to the Later Stone Age (LSA), occurred first in East Africa. Enkapune Ya Muto rockshelter, in the central Rift Valley of Kenya, contains the oldest known archaeological horizons spanning this transition. Radiocarbon and obsidian hydration dates from this 5·6-m deep cultural sequence show that the Later Stone Age began substantially earlier than 46,000 years ago. Ostrich eggshell beads were made 40,000 years ago. Early dates for the LSA and beads may have implications for the origin and dispersal of modern human behaviour and modern humans out of Africa.This site also contains the only known occurrences dating to the Middle Holocene dry phase in highland Kenya and Tanzania, as well as occurrences that span the transition from hunting and gathering to food production, and from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. The adoption of domestic animals by indigenous Eburran hunter–gatherers in highland East Africa occurred gradually between 4900 and 3300 uncorrected radiocarbon yearsBPand the Neolithic/Later Iron Age transition occurred around 1300BP.
Article
Handaxes are often used to discuss the evolution of mental capabilities in early hominids. There are several reasons handaxes are used for this purpose, but principal among these is the notion that handaxe shape is an arbitrary imposition of form, on varied raw material, that reflects shared mental templates. If this is so, then changes in handaxe shape through time and space may speak directly to evolving mental capabilities. It is argued here, however, that far too little attention has been paid to much simpler levels of explanation that may say much less about mental capabilities. This point is illustrated by re-examining some data sets that have been used by others to show patterns in handaxe shape interpreted as reflecting differences in mental constructs or for elevated mental abilities. It will be argued here that some very basic factors, such as raw materials and reduction intensity, are better able to explain the observed patterns. As a result, the existence of mental templates for preferred handaxe shapes seems unlikely.
Article
Analysis of prehistoric stone artifacts from Lower Pleistocene sites at Koobi Fora, Kenya, and Middle Pleistocene horizons at Ambrona, Spain reveals a preferential, clockwise rotation of stone cores during flaking. Experimental studies of early stone artifact manufacture show that this non-random pattern is consistent with that produced by right-handed toolmakers. This suggests that there was a genetic basis for right-handedness by 1·4 to 1·9 million years ago, and that there may have already been a profound lateralization in the hominid brain with the two hemispheres becoming more specialized for different functions.
Article
The systematic archaeological and geological survey and excavations at Gona between 1992–1994 led to the discovery of well-flaked stone artefacts which are currently the oldest known from anywhere in the world. More than 3000 surface and excavated artefacts were recovered at 15 localities documented east and west of the Kada Gona river. Based on radioisotopic dating (40Ar/39Ar) and magnetostratigraphy, the artefacts are dated between 2·6–2·5 million years ago (Ma). EG10 and EG12 from East Gona are the most informative with the highest density, providing the best opportunity for characterizing the oldest assemblages and for understanding the stone working capability of the earliest tool makers. Slightly younger artefact occurrences dated to 2·4–2·3 Ma are known from Hadar and Omo in Ethiopia, and from Lokalalei in Kenya. Cut-marked bones dated to 2·5 Ma from Bouri in Ethiopia are now providing important clues on the function of these artefacts. In addition, Australopithecus garhi known from contemporary deposits at Bouri may be the best candidate responsible for the oldest artefacts. Surprisingly, the makers of the Gona artefacts had a sophisticated understanding of stone fracture mechanics and control similar to what is observed for Oldowan assemblages dated between 2·0–1·5 Ma. This observation was corroborated by the recent archaeological discoveries made at Lokalalei. Because of the similarities seen in the techniques of artefact manufacture during the Late Pliocene–Early Pleistocene, it is argued here that the stone assemblages dated between 2·6–1·5 Ma group into the Oldowan Industry. The similarity and simplicity of the artefacts from this time interval suggests a technological stasis in the Oldowan.
Article
The ways in which the cultural evidence - in its chronological context - can be used to imply behavioural patterning and to identify possible causes of change are discussed. Improved reliability in dating methods, suites of dates from different regional localities, and new, firmly dated fossil hominids from crucial regions such as northeast Africa, the Levant, India and China, are essential for clarification of the origin and spread of the modern genepool. Hominid ancestry in Africa is reviewed, as well as the claims for an independent origin in Asia. The cultural differences and changes within Africa, West and South Asia and the Far East in the later Middle and early Upper Pleistocene are examined and compared, and some behavioural implications are suggested, taking account of the evolutionary frameworks suggested by the 'multiregional evolution' and 'Noah's Ark' hypotheses of human evolution. A possible explanation is proposed for the cultural differences between Africa, West Asia and India on the one hand, and southeast Asia and the Far East on the other. The apparent hiatus between the appearance of the first anatomically modern humans, ca. 100 ka ago, and the appearance of the Upper Palaeolithic and other contemporaneous technological and behavioural changes around 40 ka ago, is discussed. It is suggested that the anatomical changes occurred first, and that neurological changes permitted the development of fully syntactic language some 50 ka later. The intellectual and behavioural revolution, best demonstrated by the 'Upper Palaeolithic' of Eurasia, seems to have been dependent on this linguistic development - within the modern genepool - and triggered the rapid migration of human populations throughout the Old World.
Article
Konso-Gardula is a palaeoanthropological area discovered by the 1991 Palaeoanthropological Inventory of Ethiopia in the southern Main Ethiopian Rift. The Konso-Gardula sediments span the period about 1.3-1.9 million years ago. They contain rich Acheulean archaeological occurrences. Vertebrate fossils include early Homo.
Article
Nine hominid dental, cranial and postcranial specimens from Kanapoi, Kenya, and 12 specimens from Allia Bay, Kenya, are described here as a new species of Australopithecus dating from between about 3.9 million and 4.2 million years ago. The mosaic of primitive and derived features shows this species to be a possible ancestor to Australopithecus afarensis and suggests that Ardipithecus ramidus is a sister species to this and all later hominids. A tibia establishes that hominids were bipedal at least half a million years before the previous earliest evidence showed.
Article
40Ar/39Ar laser-incremental heating of hornblende separated from pumice recovered at two hominid sites in Java, Indonesia, has yielded well-defined plateaus with weighted mean ages of 1.81 +/- 0.04 and 1.66 +/- 0.04 million years ago (Ma). The hominid fossils, a juvenile calvaria of Pithecanthropus and a partial face and cranial fragments of Meganthropus, commonly considered part of the Asian Homo erectus hypodigm, are at least 0.6 million years older than fossils referred to as Homo erectus (OH-9) from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, and comparable in age with the oldest Koobi Fora Homo cf. erectus (Homo ergaster) in Kenya. These ages lend further credence to the view that Homo erectus may have evolved outside of Africa. If the ancestor of Homo erectus ventured out of Africa before 1.8 Ma, the dispersal would have predated the advent of the Acheulean culture at 1.4 Ma, possibly explaining the absence of these characteristic stone cleavers and hand axes in East Asia.