Sunday, June 26, 2011

CRAFTING ANCIENT TOOLS DEVELOPED MODERN HUMAN BRAIN

I am particularly interested in this story because our Prehistoric People Program takes authentic stone age tools (on loan from UCLA's Fowler Museum) out to classrooms. We pass the tools to (usually) 6th graders and they can see how early people developed very slowly until -- bang! -- modern people and their complicated tools arrive on the scene! We have reached over 67,000 students since the program began (1975) in the Connecticut/New York area.


LUND, Sweden, June 21 (UPI) -- Advanced crafting of stone spearheads and other tools contributed to the development of new ways of human thinking and behaving, Swedish archaeologists say. Researchers at Lund University say the technology for creating such tools took a long time to acquire, and required step-by-step planning and increased social interaction across generations, which led to the human brain developing new abilities.

Small groups of people wandering across Africa 200,000 years ago resembled contemporary humans anatomically but did not think the way we do today, the researchers said in a Lund release Tuesday.

But in a period of transformation about 80,000 years ago early modern humans who existed in what is now South Africa used advanced technology for the production of spearheads and the complicated crafting process 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," Lund researcher Anders Hogberg said. "This affected the development of the human brain and cognitive ability."

This social learning contributed to the subsequent development of early modern humans' cognitive ability to express symbolism and abstract thoughts through their material culture, the researchers said.


Read more: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2011/06/21/Study-Ancient-tools-developed-human-brain/UPI-58841308694628/print/#ixzz1QOWZYXYt

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