Creativity in Human Evolution and Prehistory (Theoretical Archaeology Group)

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Homo habilis lived from about 2. Homo habilis had smaller molars and larger brains than the australopithecines, and made tools from stone and perhaps animal bones. One of the first known hominins was nicknamed 'handy man' by discoverer Louis Leakey due to its association with stone tools. Some scientists have proposed moving this species out of Homo and into Australopithecus due to the morphology of its skeleton being more adapted to living on trees rather than to moving on two legs like Homo sapiens. In May , a new species, Homo gautengensis , was discovered in South Africa.

These are proposed species names for fossils from about 1. The first fossils of Homo erectus were discovered by Dutch physician Eugene Dubois in on the Indonesian island of Java. He originally named the material Anthropopithecus erectus —, considered at this point as a chimpanzee-like fossil primate and Pithecanthropus erectus —, changing his mind as of based on its morphology, which he considered to be intermediate between that of humans and apes.

Weidenreich concluded in that because of their anatomical similarity with modern humans it was necessary to gather all these specimens of Java and China in a single species of the genus Homo , the species Homo erectus. The early phase of Homo erectus , from 1. In Africa in the Early Pleistocene, 1. This species also may have used fire to cook meat. Richard Wrangham suggests that the fact that Homo seems to have been ground dwelling, with reduced intestinal length, smaller dentition, "and swelled our brains to their current, horrendously fuel-inefficient size", [] suggest that control of fire and releasing increased nutritional value through cooking was the key adaptation that separated Homo from tree-sleeping Australopithecines.

Many paleoanthropologists now use the term Homo ergaster for the non-Asian forms of this group, and reserve Homo erectus only for those fossils that are found in Asia and meet certain skeletal and dental requirements which differ slightly from H. These are proposed as species that may be intermediate between H. Also proposed as Homo sapiens heidelbergensis or Homo sapiens paleohungaricus. Homo neanderthalensis , alternatively designated as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis , [] lived in Europe and Asia from , [] to about 28, years ago.

Many of these relate to the superior adaptation to cold environments possessed by the Neanderthal populations. Their surface to volume ratio is an extreme version of that found amongst Inuit populations, indicating that they were less inclined to lose body heat than were AMH. From brain Endocasts, Neanderthals also had significantly larger brains. This would seem to indicate that the intellectual superiority of AMH populations may be questionable.

Dunbar, however, have shown important differences in Brain architecture. For example, in both the orbital chamber size and in the size of the occipital lobe , the larger size suggests that the Neanderthal had a better visual acuity than modern humans. This would give a superior vision in the inferior light conditions found in Glacial Europe. It also seems that the higher body mass of Neanderthals had a correspondingly larger brain mass required for body care and control.

The Neanderthal populations seem to have been physically superior to AMH populations. These differences may have been sufficient to give Neanderthal populations an environmental superiority to AMH populations from 75, to 45, years BP. With these differences, Neanderthal brains show a smaller area was available for social functioning. Plotting group size possible from endocrainial volume, suggests that AMH populations minus occipital lobe size , had a Dunbars number of possible relationships.

Neanderthal populations seem to have been limited to about individuals. This would show up in a larger number of possible mates for AMH humans, with increased risks of inbreeding amongst Neanderthal populations. It also suggests that humans had larger trade catchment areas than Neanderthals confirmed in the distribution of stone tools. With larger populations, social and technological innovations were easier to fix in human populations, which may have all contributed to the fact that modern Homo sapiens replaced the Neanderthal populations by 28, BP.

Impossible Discoveries: The Truth for Humankind

Earlier evidence from sequencing mitochondrial DNA suggested that no significant gene flow occurred between H. Though this interbred Romanian population seems not to have been ancestral to modern humans, the finding indicates that interbreeding happened repeatedly. In , archaeologists working at the site of Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia uncovered a small bone fragment from the fifth finger of a juvenile member of Denisovans.

While the divergence point of the mtDNA was unexpectedly deep in time, [] the full genomic sequence suggested the Denisovans belonged to the same lineage as Neanderthals, with the two diverging shortly after their line split from the lineage that gave rise to modern humans.

The existence of this distant branch creates a much more complex picture of humankind during the Late Pleistocene than previously thought. Alleles thought to have originated in Neanderthals and Denisovans have been identified at several genetic loci in the genomes of modern humans outside of Africa.

HLA haplotypes from Denisovans and Neanderthal represent more than half the HLA alleles of modern Eurasians, [93] indicating strong positive selection for these introgressed alleles. Corinne Simoneti at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville and her team have found from medical records of 28, people of European descent that the presence of Neanderthal DNA segments may be associated with a likelihood to suffer depression more frequently. The flow of genes from Neanderthal populations to modern human was not all one way. Sergi Castellano of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has in reported that while Denisovan and Neanderthal genomes are more related to each other than they are to us, Siberian Neanderthal genomes show similarity to the modern human gene pool, more so than to European Neanderthal populations.

The evidence suggests that the Neanderthal populations interbred with modern humans possibly , years ago, probably somewhere in the Near East. Studies of a Neanderthal child at Gibraltar show from brain development and teeth eruption that Neanderthal children may have matured more rapidly than is the case for Homo sapiens. In other words, H. The main find was a skeleton believed to be a woman of about 30 years of age. Found in , it has been dated to approximately 18, years old. However, there is an ongoing debate over whether H. This, coupled with pathological dwarfism, could have resulted in a significantly diminutive human.

The other major attack on H. The hypothesis of pathological dwarfism, however, fails to explain additional anatomical features that are unlike those of modern humans diseased or not but much like those of ancient members of our genus. Aside from cranial features, these features include the form of bones in the wrist, forearm, shoulder, knees, and feet. Additionally, this hypothesis fails to explain the find of multiple examples of individuals with these same characteristics, indicating they were common to a large population, and not limited to one individual.

A small number of specimens from the island of Luzon , dated 50, to 67, years ago, have recently been assigned by their discoverers, based on dental characteristics, to a novel human species, H. The direct evidence suggests there was a migration of H. A subsequent migration both within and out of Africa eventually replaced the earlier dispersed H.

This migration and origin theory is usually referred to as the "recent single-origin hypothesis" or "out of Africa" theory. The Toba catastrophe theory , which postulates a population bottleneck for H. The use of tools has been interpreted as a sign of intelligence, and it has been theorized that tool use may have stimulated certain aspects of human evolution, especially the continued expansion of the human brain.

The brain of a modern human consumes about 13 watts kilocalories per day , a fifth of the body's resting power consumption. Researchers have suggested that early hominins were thus under evolutionary pressure to increase their capacity to create and use tools. Precisely when early humans started to use tools is difficult to determine, because the more primitive these tools are for example, sharp-edged stones the more difficult it is to decide whether they are natural objects or human artifacts.

Many species make and use tools , but it is the human genus that dominates the areas of making and using more complex tools. The oldest known tools are flakes from West Turkana, Kenya, which date to 3. These tools date to about 2. It is a possibility but does not yet represent solid evidence. It allows humans the dexterity and strength to make and use complex tools. This unique anatomical feature separates humans from apes and other nonhuman primates, and is not seen in human fossils older than 1. Bernard Wood noted that Paranthropus co-existed with the early Homo species in the area of the "Oldowan Industrial Complex" over roughly the same span of time.

Although there is no direct evidence which identifies Paranthropus as the tool makers, their anatomy lends to indirect evidence of their capabilities in this area.

Evolution and Prehistory: The Human Challenge

Most paleoanthropologists agree that the early Homo species were indeed responsible for most of the Oldowan tools found. They argue that when most of the Oldowan tools were found in association with human fossils, Homo was always present, but Paranthropus was not. In , Randall Susman used the anatomy of opposable thumbs as the basis for his argument that both the Homo and Paranthropus species were toolmakers. He compared bones and muscles of human and chimpanzee thumbs, finding that humans have 3 muscles which are lacking in chimpanzees.

Humans also have thicker metacarpals with broader heads, allowing more precise grasping than the chimpanzee hand can perform. Susman posited that modern anatomy of the human opposable thumb is an evolutionary response to the requirements associated with making and handling tools and that both species were indeed toolmakers. Stone tools are first attested around 2. Archaeologists working in the Great Rift Valley in Kenya have discovered the oldest known stone tools in the world.

Dated to around 3. The period from ,—, years ago is also known as the Acheulean , when H. After , BP the more refined so-called Levallois technique was developed, a series of consecutive strikes, by which scrapers, slicers "racloirs" , needles, and flattened needles were made. In this period they also started to make tools out of bone.

Until about 50,—40, years ago, the use of stone tools seems to have progressed stepwise. Each phase H. Currently paleoanthropologists are debating whether these Homo species possessed some or many of the cultural and behavioral traits associated with modern humans such as language, complex symbolic thinking, technological creativity etc. It seems that they were culturally conservative maintaining simple technologies and foraging patterns over very long periods.

Around 50, BP , modern human culture started to evolve more rapidly. The transition to behavioral modernity has been characterized by most as a Eurasian "Great Leap Forward", [] or as the "Upper Palaeolithic Revolution", [] due to the sudden appearance of distinctive signs of modern behavior and big game hunting [98] in the archaeological record. Some other scholars consider the transition to have been more gradual, noting that some features had already appeared among archaic African Homo sapiens since , years ago.

Modern humans started burying their dead, using animal hides to make clothing, hunting with more sophisticated techniques such as using trapping pits or driving animals off cliffs , and engaging in cave painting. Typically, H. Among concrete examples of modern human behavior , anthropologists include specialization of tools, use of jewellery and images such as cave drawings , organization of living space, rituals for example, burials with grave gifts , specialized hunting techniques, exploration of less hospitable geographical areas, and barter trade networks.

Debate continues as to whether a "revolution" led to modern humans "the big bang of human consciousness" , or whether the evolution was more "gradual". Evolution has continued in anatomically modern human populations, which are affected by both natural selection and genetic drift. Although selection pressure on some traits, such as resistance to smallpox, has decreased in modern human life, humans are still undergoing natural selection for many other traits.

Some of these are due to specific environmental pressures, while others are related to lifestyle changes since the development of agriculture 10, years ago , urban civilization 5, , and industrialization years ago. It has been argued that human evolution has accelerated since the development of agriculture 10, years ago and civilization some 5, years ago, resulting, it is claimed, in substantial genetic differences between different current human populations. Particularly conspicuous is variation in superficial characteristics, such as Afro-textured hair , or the recent evolution of light skin and blond hair in some populations, which are attributed to differences in climate.

Particularly strong selective pressures have resulted in high-altitude adaptation in humans , with different ones in different isolated populations. Studies of the genetic basis show that some developed very recently, with Tibetans evolving over 3, years to have high proportions of an allele of EPAS1 that is adaptive to high altitudes. Other evolution is related to endemic diseases : the presence of malaria selected for sickle cell trait the heterozygote form of sickle cell gene , while the absence of malaria and the health effects of sickle-cell anemia select against this trait.

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For example, the population at risk of the severe debilitating disease kuru has significant over-representation of an immune variant of the prion protein gene GV versus non-immune alleles. The frequency of this genetic variant is due to the survival of immune persons. Recent human evolution related to agriculture includes genetic resistance to infectious disease that has appeared in human populations by crossing the species barrier from domesticated animals, [] as well as changes in metabolism due to changes in diet, such as lactase persistence. In contemporary times, since industrialization, some trends have been observed: for instance, menopause is evolving to occur later.

This list is in chronological order across the table by genus. Please see articles for more information.

Creativity in Human Evolution and Prehistory.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Evolutionary process leading to the appearance of anatomically modern humans. Hominin timeline. This box: view talk edit. Homo habilis.


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Homo erectus. Homo sapiens. Earlier apes. Gorilla split. Possibly bipedal. Chimpanzee split. Earliest bipedal. Stone tools. Exit from Africa. Earliest fire use. Earliest cooking. Earliest clothes. Modern speech. See also: Life timeline , and Nature timeline. Main article: Archaic humans. A global mapping model of human migration, based from divergence of the mitochondrial DNA which indicates the matrilineage. A "trellis" as Milford H. Wolpoff called it that emphasizes back-and-forth gene flow among geographic regions. Different models for the beginning of the present human species.

See also: Early human migrations , Recent African origin of modern humans , Multiregional origin of modern humans , and Early hominids in Southeast Asia. Main articles: Human evolutionary genetics and Human genetic variation. Further information: Interbreeding between archaic and modern humans. For evolutionary history before primates, see Evolution of mammals , Evolutionary history of life , and Timeline of human evolution. See also: Evolution of primates. Main article: Australopithecus. Main article: Homo. It has been suggested that this section be split out into another article titled Homo.

Discuss April See also: Control of fire by early humans.


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Main article: Homo heidelbergensis. Main articles: Neanderthal and Denisovan. Main article: Homo floresiensis. Main article: Homo luzonensis. See also: Hunting hypothesis. Main article: Stone tool. Further information: Behavioral modernity. Main article: Recent human evolution. Strickberger's Evolution. Evol Biol.


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Living Anthropologically. Michael F. Scientific American , May New Scientist , Volume , Issue , 30 July , pp. May Retrieved July 11, Bibcode : Sci Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology. July 17, July 16, Bibcode : PNAS.. Journal of Human Evolution.

Science News. Thomas October Annual Review of Anthropology. March Child's Nervous System. Josh; Robertson, Marcia L. August Annual Review of Nutrition. Berkeley: University of California Press. The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, August 30, Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Current Biology. Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy.

August 22, March 8, Survival of the Nicest. The Experiment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Evolutionary Anthropology. On Becoming Human.

Human evolution

CUP Archive. Owen The book examines how our understanding of human creativity can be extended by exploring this phenomenon during human evolution and prehistory. The book offers unique perspectives on the nature of human creativity from archaeologists who are concerned with long term patterns of cultural change and have access to quite different types of human behaviour than that which exists today. It asks whether humans are the only creative species, or whether our extinct relatives such as Homo habilis and the Neanderthals also displayed creative thinking.

It explores what we can learn about the nature of human creativity from cultural developments during prehistory, such as changes in the manner in which the dead were buried, monuments constructed, and the natural world exploited.

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In doing so, new light is thrown on these cultural developments and the behaviour of our prehistoric ancestors. By examining the nature of creativity during human evolution and prehistory these archaeologists, supported by contributions from psychology, computer science and social anthropology, show that human creativity is a far more diverse and complex phenomena than simply flashes of genius by isolated individuals. Indeed they show that unless perspectives from prehistory are taken into account, our understanding of human creativity will be limited and incomplete.

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