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 Magnetic nanopropellers deliver genetic material to cells
08.05.2020 | Max-Planck-Institut für Intelligente Systeme

nachricht Development of new system for combatting COVID-19 that can be used for other viruses
08.04.2020 | University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Small Protein, Big Impact

In meningococci, the RNA-binding protein ProQ plays a major role. Together with RNA molecules, it regulates processes that are important for pathogenic properties of the bacteria.

Meningococci are bacteria that can cause life-threatening meningitis and sepsis. These pathogens use a small protein with a large impact: The RNA-binding...

Im Focus: K-State study reveals asymmetry in spin directions of galaxies

Research also suggests the early universe could have been spinning

An analysis of more than 200,000 spiral galaxies has revealed unexpected links between spin directions of galaxies, and the structure formed by these links...

Im Focus: New measurement exacerbates old problem

Two prominent X-ray emission lines of highly charged iron have puzzled astrophysicists for decades: their measured and calculated brightness ratios always disagree. This hinders good determinations of plasma temperatures and densities. New, careful high-precision measurements, together with top-level calculations now exclude all hitherto proposed explanations for this discrepancy, and thus deepen the problem.

Hot astrophysical plasmas fill the intergalactic space, and brightly shine in stellar coronae, active galactic nuclei, and supernova remnants. They contain...

Im Focus: Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme

In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...

Im Focus: New double-contrast technique picks up small tumors on MRI

Early detection of tumors is extremely important in treating cancer. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from normal tissue. The work is published May 25 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Why developing nerve cells can take a wrong turn

04.06.2020 | Life Sciences

The broken mirror: Can parity violation in molecules finally be measured?

04.06.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Innocent and highly oxidizing

04.06.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>