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FW: Web sites of interest

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: Jesse S. Cook III [SMTP:jesse_cook@JUNO.COM] Sent: Friday, November 05, 1999 12:13 PM To:
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 5, 1999
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Jesse S. Cook III [SMTP:jesse_cook@...]
      Sent: Friday, November 05, 1999 12:13 PM
      To: ANTHRO-L@...
      Subject: Web sites of interest

      The latest issue of *Natural History* (11/99) has a short piece entitled
      "Virtual Hominids" (pp. 66-67) in which are listed some interesting web
      siites. Here is one of them:
      (Please note that there are two "els"-after "head" and "htm"-and two
      "ones"-after "/e" and "_h".)
      On it, you will find:
      Tattersall, Ian; *The Origin of the Human Capacity*; American Museaum of
      Natural History, New York; 1998
      This is the 68th James Arthur Lecture on the Evolution of the Human Brain.
      It begins:
      "Just what is it, that strange quality of our consciousness that sets us off
      from all other living organisms and which, as importantly, makes us feel so
      entirely different from them all, even those to whom we know ourselves to be
      quite closely related? And, whatever it is, how and when did we acquire it?
      [Although] these questions come close to being unanswerable except in the
      broadest of terms, they beg to be asked [because] they encapsulate the most
      basic and profound of all the many mysteries posed by our strange and
      (occasionally) wonderful selves..."
      Here are some more excerpts:
      "...[T]he tools [of the first toolmakers] mark a major cognitive leap
      forward among hominids. They allowed the exploitation of a new source of
      protein-animal carcasses-that had previously been largely off limits...
      "These early stone tools were crude...but highly effective...What's more, it
      takes considerable insight, well beyond what any ape has achieved, even with
      intensive coaching...to stike a cobble with another at precisely the angle
      necessary to detach a sharp flake...With the invention of stone tools, we
      have the first unequivocal evidence that hominids had moved cognitively well
      beyond the ape league..."
      "...[S]ome Japanese investigators (Ohnuma, Aoki, and Akazawa, 1997)
      have...carried out an elegant experiment in which two groups of college
      students were taught to make 'Levallois points', a tool type favored by many
      Neanderthal [sic] groups. One [student] group was taught by direct,
      nonverbal demonstration, while the other.was also given verbal explanations.
      Significantly, there was no difference in performance between the two
      groups, either in quality...or in speed..."
      "...[T]he potential for the unique human capacity was born with our
      species...as a byproduct of some other change, and...it lay fallow, as it
      were, until unleased by a cultural (rather than biological) stimulus...What
      might that releasing stimulus have been? Like many others, I am almost sure
      that it was the *invention* of language...[B]y the time Homo sapiens came on
      the scene, the peripheral equipment that allows articulate speech had been
      around for several hundred thousand years..." (Emphasis added.)
      Jesse S. Cook III
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