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Discovery of Early Human Tools Hint at Earlier Start 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the rewriting-the-book dept.
SternisheFan writes in with a story about early humans passing down their tool making skills. "Sophisticated bladelets suggest that humans passed on their technological skill down the generations. A haul of stone blades from a cave in South Africa suggests that early humans were already masters of complex technology more than 70,000 years ago . The tiny blades — no more than about 3 centimeters long on average — were probably used as tips for throwable spears, or as spiky additions to club-like weapons, says Curtis Marean, an archaeologist at Arizona State University in Tempe who led the team that found the bladelets. Twenty-seven such blades, called microliths by archaeologists, were found in layers of sand and soil dating as far back as 71,000 years ago and representing a time-span of about 11,000 years, showing how long humans were manufacturing the blades. Clever crafters The find lends credence to the idea that early humans were capable of passing on their clever ideas to the next generation of artisans, creating complex technologies that endured over time. John Shea, a palaeoanthropologist at Stony Brook University in New York, says that it also suggests that 'previous hypotheses that 'early' Homo sapiens differed from 'modern' ones in these respects are probably wrong'."
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Discovery of Early Human Tools Hint at Earlier Start

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  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @12:57AM (#41915913)

    I wonder if Teh Management would consider truncating AC posts to a shorter "Read the rest of this comment" than the above.

    Like maybe, 10 lines. If they're actually saying something relevant and interesting (which they often do), it would still be easy enough to click the link.

  • Re:Mmmmnnn... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @01:52AM (#41916083)

    Well that's a very dismissive attitude. You're not arguing with creationists here, so drop the condescension.

    The fact is that there is a (relatively) sudden appearance of things we associate with modern thought (e.g. decoration, advanced tools, explosive population and migration) around 50 kya. I say relatively, because we're still talking about a span of tens of thousands of years. Humanity had been nearly exterminated around 70 kya, so it's entirely reasonable to think that those who survived made major evolutionary leaps -- or, put a better way, those who survived did so because of those leaps.

    That humans were making tools even before then is not "news". For example, we're pretty sure that fire was first mastered not by Homo sapiens, but by Homo erectus, hundreds of thousands of years before anatomically modern humans even existed. Homo erectus lasted for longer than modern humans have, and at the rate we're going, they'll probably end up having lived for longer on Earth than our species. But they never developed a civilization like ours, despite their million years of existence. It seems evident from that that a species can have advanced toolmaking (e.g. fire) without reaching the level of modern human intelligence.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2012 @06:00AM (#41917005)

    When I was younger, the concept was that just a few thousand years ago we were retarded cave men, and then suddenly civilization happened. Nowadays what I picture is more like endless millennia of fairly intelligent people living like Native Americans in many different ways until finally a few thousand years ago a few things were (re)discovered and remembered and propagated to enough other humans that modern civilization exploded into being and had enough momentum and population to finally stick around, where it hadn't been able to "stick" before.

    I always thought the main jump to civilization we know today was agriculture. This allows sedentary people which in turn makes time to cultivate land: Not just the farmland but also the farms and any other buildings. This type of culture is obviously easier to find and spot because it's bigger.
    Cultural items for a roaming people would have to be far smaller and probably consist of more organic materials as stone and metallic items would just be to heavy to carry around.

    I think some decades back we may have believed that people suddenly became intelligent at the same time they became sedentary because that was the only archaeological stuff we were finding back then.

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