Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cutting edge training developed the human brain 80,000 years ago

Date:
June 22, 2011
Source:
Lund University
Summary:
Advanced crafting of stone spearheads contributed to the development of new ways of human thinking and behaving. The technology took a long time to acquire, required step by step planning and increased social interaction across the generations. This led to the human brain developing new abilities, according to archeologists.

Cave in South Africa where excavations have taken place.
Credit: Image courtesy of Lund University

Advanced crafting of stone spearheads contributed to the development of new ways of human thinking and behaving, according to new findings by archaeologists from Lund University. The technology took a long time to acquire, required step by step planning and increased social interaction across the generations. This led to the human brain developing new abilities.

Some 200,000 years ago, small groups of people wandered across Africa, looking anatomically much like present-day humans, but not thinking the way we do today. Studies of fossils and the rate of mutations in DNA show that the human species to which we all belong -- Homo sapiens sapiens -- has existed for 200,000 years.

But the archaeological research of recent years has shown that, even though the most ancient traces of modern humans are 200,000 years old, the development of modern cognitive behaviour is probably much younger. For about 100,000 years, there were people who looked like us, but who were cognitively and socially very different from us.

It is precisely that period of transformation that the researchers at Lund University in Sweden have studied. In the next issue of the Journal of Human Evolution, they present new findings on the early modern humans that existed in what is now South Africa, approximately 80,000 years ago.

The findings show that people at that time used advanced technology for the production of spearheads and that the complicated crafting process likely developed the working memory and social life of humans.

"When the technology was passed from one generation to the next, from adults to children, it became part of a cultural learning process which created a socially more advanced society than before. This affected the development of the human brain and cognitive ability," says Anders Hφgberg, PhD.

The technology led to increased social interaction within and across the generations. This happened because the crafting of stone spearheads took a long time to learn and required a lot of knowledge, both theoretical and practical. Producing a stone spearhead also required the ability to plan in several stages. This social learning contributed to the subsequent development of early modern humans' cognitive ability to express symbolism and abstract thoughts through their material culture, for example in the form of decorated objects.

"The excavations have been carried out in a small cave; the location we have studied is called Hollow Rock Shelter and lies 250 km north of Cape Town. We are cooperating with the University of Cape Town and the research we have just published is part of a larger research project on this location," says Professor Lars Larsson.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lund University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anders Hφgberg, Lars Larsson. Lithic technology and behavioural modernity: New results from the Still Bay site, Hollow Rock Shelter, Western Cape Province, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2011.02.006

Cite This Page:

Lund University. "Cutting edge training developed the human brain 80,000 years ago." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110621093308.htm>.
Lund University. (2011, June 22). Cutting edge training developed the human brain 80,000 years ago. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110621093308.htm
Lund University. "Cutting edge training developed the human brain 80,000 years ago." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110621093308.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Newsy (July 25, 2014) — Unverified footage posted to YouTube purportedly shows ISIS militants destroying a shrine widely believed to be the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) — Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

AFP (July 25, 2014) — Visitors will be able to look down from a glass walkway on the grave of King Richard III when a new centre opens in the English cathedral city of Leicester, where the infamous hunchback was found under a car park in 2012. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins