Evolution and humans: stone artifacts interpreted (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 20:44 (1053 days ago) @ David Turell

This entry refers back to previous discussion of the meaning of artifacts as indications of cultural interconnections and transmission of the way to manufacture them:


"The archaeological record clearly shows that, by at least 2.6 million years ago, one or more fossil hominin taxa were frequently making and using stone tools. A defining (and puzzling) feature of early stone tool assemblages is that patterns of production appear to have few identifiable or directional changes over hundreds of thousands of years.

"For us, however, a null hypothesis that this technology was passed from hominin brain to brain and from generation to generation via cultural transmission in a way reminiscent of, if not exactly like, that used by humans today is not clearly supported by the archaeological evidence.


"we propose that—at this time—a more appropriate null hypothesis is that the first stone tools were latent solutions resulting from individual learning augmented by low-fidelity social learning."

Comment: This means the artifacts were made by the existing hominins of that time, and no one knows how the knowledge was jumped to the next more advanced species.

And then this opinion:


The argument I shall explore as to why more evidence can be extracted from the archaeological record starts by assuming that users, artifacts, practices and tasks have coevolved. Artifacts typically arise to address a need connected with a task.

David: From a modern point of view:

The key feature of artifacts, however, is the way they co-evolve with the humans who use them. Artifacts are unlike oceans and deserts in that they evolved to support human experience. They help to preserve the collective practical knowledge of a group. A major function of artifacts, then, is to serve as a repository of knowledge. Because most of the cognitive life of a culture is tied up in the way its members perform tasks and solve everyday problems, the artifacts that partly constitute and frame those practices, and embody the intelligence of generations of designing, serve as partners in task performance. This intelligence in design does not earn them the right to a ‘cognitive life’ of their own. They are parasitic on human culture.

Comment: The prevailing view is artifacts represent the cultural time/generation with which they are found. No one ascribes artifacts to thoughts in a previous species. It is either evolution produced larger brained hominins/homos or as ID and I believe, God did it.

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