Thanks for taking the time to comment on these points.
Could you give me some bibliography for some parts of your work
most relevant to these issues? Are there any fairly concise summaries
Is it not the case that the archeological evidence for
Australian aborigines would include complex multi-part tools, ceremonial
burial, long-range transport of materials and evidence of commercial
exchange, structured living spaces, and decorative and representational art?
With respect to Neanderthals, the behavioral repertory has to be
taken into account. From what I've been able to gather, the likelihood is
that their speech was probably not capable of producing the same range of
articulate sounds as modern humans are. There is burial but no very good
evidence of ceremonial
burial, certainly not on a wide scale. Living spaces were not structured.
Decorative art is late and minimal. There is no indication of
representational art. The whole array suggests a level of "symbolic
culture" significantly different from that of the Upper Paleolithic.
makes the argument that it is reasonable to suppose some kind of correlation
between linguistic development and all these other features, and especially
the features associated with what I'm calling "symbolic culture" (ceremonial
burial, decoration, and representational art).
Rapid technological and cultural change is a distinguishing
feature of modern humans. The differences between technology and culture
now and say 500 years ago are big, for sure, but compared to the change that
the Upper Paleolithic, those are differences of degree, not a quantum leap
into a different order of behavior. Going from no representational art to
some representational art is a basic shift in a way that going from one
style of art to another style of art is not. Similar claims can be made for
going from simple stone tool assemblages to complex multi-part tools and
from unstructured living spaces to structured living spaces. Those
transitions are basic in a way that the difference between Upper Paleolithic
technology and computers are not.
No, all technological innovations don't depend on brain
mutations, but the capacity for technological innovation is itself
fundamentally dependent on some kind of brain development that distinguishes
humans not just from other animals but from some of their ancestors in the
Pleistocene. At some point, the brain became capable of technological
innovation. It seems more than likely that whatever change that was also
had correlated effects in all the other areas in the behavioral suite we've
been talking about.
As I mentioned in a previous note, Enard's plenary at HBES in
Berlin gave an indication of a kind of genetic analysis that might find a
way around the lack of evidence from endocasts. He had studied the
transmission of a specific, major language deficit
in several generations of a single family, and had identified the single
mutation that causes the deficit. Through MRI scans, they could also locate
the neurological location in which the impairment causes trouble. One
implication of this finding is that complex features of language (syntax)
could have evolved as a simple major mutation that registers only as
neurological organization and that is not visible in fossil skulls of
"anatomically modern" humans--humans with skulls the same shape as ours.
Genetic dating is probably going to be giving us other lines
into the past that work around the limitations in preserved material
culture. There was another plenary about the evolution of body lice. They
split off from head lice only about 75,000 years ago--that can be dated with
precision. Body lice breed only in clothing. So that gives a date for the
widespread use of clothing, and that date ties in with the dispersion out of
Africa into colder climates.
Thanks for the citation to Wolpoff. I'll look that up.