Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ancient Bone Tools Suggest Modern Human Behavior Has African Roots

09.11.2001


It’s an enduring enigma in paleoanthropology: when and where did modern human behavior arise? The fossil record suggests that anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa sometime between 150,000 and 100,000 years ago. Yet the earliest convincing indications of behavioral modernity in our species, archaeologists have argued, date to tens of thousands of years later and have turned up in Europe, not Africa. With that in mind, some theorists posited that modern behavior blossomed late and rather suddenly (perhaps as a result of key changes in the brain), shortly after anatomically modern humans began to colonize other parts of the globe.

Now a new discovery is making that scenario difficult to swallow. Researchers have recovered 28 specialized bone tools and related artifacts indicative of modern behavior from 70,000-year-old deposits in a South African cave known as Blombos. This, team member Christopher S. Henshilwood of the Iziko-South African Museum in Cape Town asserts, implies "that there was modern human behavior in Africa about 35,000 years before Europe." An analysis of these tools will appear in the December issue of the Journal of Human Evolution.

Though the ancient shards of bone do not necessarily dazzle the untrained eye, they hold great significance for archaeologists, who regard them as one of several telltale signs of sophisticated behavior. Not only are bone tools difficult to manufacture, study co-author Curtis Marean of Arizona State University explains, a shift toward more specialized tool production tends to accompany them. (Intriguingly, earlier work hinted at another aspect of behavioral modernity among the early Blombos people: symbolic thinking. Large quantities of ochre and an engraved bone have been found in the cave.)



Henshilwood and Marean note that whereas Europe has a long history of archaeological investigation, only a handful of African sites have been well excavated, thus extensive evidence for early behavioral modernity in Africa is likely to surface in the future. "I think that when we start to get a big sample, the picture of modern human evolution is going to look very different. A clear picture is emerging. This puts the behavioral evolution in step with the anatomical evolution," Marean remarks. "Once again, in terms of human evolution, we are seeing Africa as being precocious: Bipedal hominids evolved in Africa; the first real increase in brain size occurred in Africa; and now, we are beginning to see that the last great advance, the development of modern behavior, was made in Africa as well. Now," he muses, "the question becomes where in Africa did this first begin to happen, and why did it happen?"

Kate Wong | Scientific American
Further information:
http://www.sciam.com/news/110801/2.html

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Start of work for the world's largest electric truck
20.04.2018 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo
19.03.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>