Earth Science News  





.
ABOUT US
Stone Age Humans Needed Bigger Brains For Better Tool Design

File image.
by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Nov 05, 2010
Stone Age humans were only able to develop relatively advanced tools after their brains evolved a greater capacity for complex thought, according to a new study that investigates why it took early humans almost two million years to move from razor-sharp stones to a hand-held stone axe.

Researchers used computer modelling and tiny sensors embedded in gloves to assess the complex hand skills that early humans needed in order to make two types of tools during the Lower Palaeolithic period, which began around 2.5 million years ago. The cross-disciplinary team, involving researchers from Imperial College London, employed a craftsperson called a flintnapper to faithfully replicate ancient tool-making techniques.

The team say that comparing the manufacturing techniques used for both Stone Age tools provides evidence of how the human brain and human behaviour evolved during the Lower Palaeolithic period.

Neuroscientist Dr Aldo Faisal, the lead author of the study from the Departments of Bioengineering and Computing at Imperial College London, says: "The advance from crude stone tools to elegant hand-held axes was a massive technological leap for our early human ancestors.

"Hand-held axes were a more useful tool for defence, hunting and routine work. Interestingly, our study reinforces the idea that tool making and language evolved together as both required more complex thought, making the end of the Lower Palaeolithic a pivotal time in our history. After this period, early humans left Africa and began to colonise other parts of the world."

Prior to this study, researchers have had different theories about why it took early humans more than 2 million years to develop stone axes. Some have suggested that early humans may have had underdeveloped motor skills or abilities, while others have suggested that it took human brains this time to develop more complex thoughts, in order to dream up better tool designs or think about better manufacturing techniques.

The researchers behind this study say that their evidence, from studying both tool-making techniques, confirms that the evolution of the early human brain was behind the development of the hand-held axe. Furthermore, the team suggest that the advancement of hand-held axe production may have also coincided with the development of language, as these functions overlap in the same regions of the modern and early human brains.

The flintnapper who participated in this study created two types tools including the razor-sharp flakes and hand-held axes. He wore a data glove with sensors enmeshed into its fabric to record hand and arm movements during the production of these tools.

After analysing this data, the researchers discovered that both flake and hand-held axe manufacturing techniques were equally complex, requiring the same kind of hand and arm dexterity. This enabled the scientists to rule out motor skills as the principal factor for holding up stone tool development.

The team deduced from their results that the axe-tool required a high level of brain processing in overlapping areas of the brain that are responsible for a range of different functions including vocal cords and complex hand gestures.

This is the first time that neuroscientists, archaeologists, anthropologists and flintnappers have teamed together, using cutting edge technology including data glove sensors and advanced modelling, to develop a deeper understanding of early human evolution.

In the future, the team plan to use their technology to compare tools made by Neanderthals, an extinct ancestor of humans, to glean insights into their brain development.




Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
Imperial College London
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here



Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
ABOUT US
Controlling Individual Cortical Nerve Cells By Human Thought
Pasadena CA (SPX) Nov 03, 2010
Five years ago, neuroscientist Christof Koch of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), neurosurgeon Itzhak Fried of UCLA, and their colleagues discovered that a single neuron in the human brain can function much like a sophisticated computer and recognize people, landmarks, and objects, suggesting that a consistent and explicit code may help transform complex visual representations in ... read more

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  


ABOUT US
A catalogue of deadly disasters in Indonesia

UN warns of aid shortfall for Pakistan flood victims

UN raises winter funds alarm in flood-hit Pakistan

81,000 homeless need aid after Myanmar cyclone: UN

ABOUT US
iPhone triggers videogame gold rush

Moving Holograms: From Science Fiction To Reality

Small Materials Poised For Big Impact In Construction

NIST Backs Proposal For A Revamped System Of Measurement Units

ABOUT US
River Flows Across US Altered By Land And Water Management

Long-Range Undersea Robot Goes The Distance

Study: Tuna black market worth billions of dollars

Time For A Rain Dance

ABOUT US
Russian Drifting Polar Station SP-38 Opens In Chukchi Sea

Increased Arctic Shipping Could Accelerate Climate Change

Is The Ice At The South Pole Melting

End Of Ice Age Holds Clues About Carbon Dioxide Patterns

ABOUT US
China deal boosts Scottish whisky industry

Climate change hurting China's grain crop: report

Expanding Croplands Chipping Away At World's Carbon Stocks

Scientists Find That Evergreen Agriculture Boosts Crop Yields

ABOUT US
Volcano travel chaos as ash grounds Indonesia flights

Flights resume to Indonesia after volcano chaos

Volcanoes Have Shifted Asian Rainfall

Storm-battered Haiti cleans up Tomas wreckage

ABOUT US
Ethiopian housemaid trades broom for song stardom in Iraq

Zambia court bails Chinese pair after mine shooting

Tanzanians vote as ruling party predicts landslide win

Nani Croze - East Africa's answer to Gaudi

ABOUT US
Brain Trumps Hand In Stone Age Tool Study

Oldest Ground-Edge Implement Discovered In Northern Australia

New Statistical Model Moves Human Evolution Back Three Million Years

Stone Age Humans Needed Bigger Brains For Better Tool Design


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement