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Wonderfest 2010: How Did Evolution Shape Human Behavior?

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Previous FORAtv comments:
KenMacMillan Avatar
Posted: 04.03.11, 09:40 PM
These guys need to speak with Professor Robert Sapolsky.
mvanveen Avatar
Posted: 12.15.10, 07:16 PM
Neanderthals did have language skills i.m.h.o, because it was required for several reasons. First of all, we must consider the setting in which they lived: big game hunting with hand (or thrusting) spears, in an icy climate with few resources. Hunters had to sustain their families by exposing themselves to very dangerous adversaries in the form of huge wild animals. The main question here is what was required for efficiency in survival and group sustainance. Imagine the setting and look at how young boys were groing up to manhood. Also, the best hunters undoubtedly had the highest status, providing the clan with insurance and possibly they were heroes too by saving the lives of other members during the hunt. at some point a boy became a man; for the benefit of the clan (efficiency) he had to provide the clan with food instead of only consuming it. The boy became a man by joining the hunt. How was this done? Could he survive by only copying behaviour, learning the techniques of sneaking up on wild animals and thrusting spears with enough force and on the right spot, just by watching? What good was it for the clan if such an initiate scared away a good prey, or worse, getting killed by a giant bear so that the next generation would count one hunter/provider less? Such a dangerous way of hunting (direct contact) required an extraordinary organisation with several hunting techniques in order to reduce the risks and increase the chance of success. Strategically and tactically. Several groups were needed to box in a wounded animal that fled, and possibly the initiates were given the task to join secondary or tertiary groups, thereby gaining field experience with less risk. There was no time for trial and error, because an error with an unwounded big animal could mean instant death. All this required instruction, sense of proportion, experience, skill, future sense, in short: efficiency in survival for the whole clan, in the broadest sense. This could not be done without language - this information was passed on to the next generation, thousands of years. It was certainly not like the chimps using a straw tool in order to eat harmless ants; this required a large scale and precise organisation that could only be learned in an active way. About symbolism: language is not a necessity for symbolism; it is the abstract sense, the meaning that is given, which determines symbolic behaviour. A flower on a grave says all without a word, and a picture says more than a thousand words. At least, so they say...
wobble Avatar
Posted: 12.13.10, 05:33 AM
Art can be used to document ideas like cave paintings may have been used for educational purpose. To pass on wisdom from generation to generation. The ones that had artists in their clan survived. Art is just a precursor to language.