What caused anatomically modern Homo sapiens to evolve into behaviorally modern people?

tadrart acacus scaled
Tadrart Acacus cave art. Credit: Wikimedia

At some point, from around 40,000 years ago in Europe, we see evidence of these behaviourally modern humans in a sudden flourishing of cultural artifacts in the archaeological record. So what caused anatomically modern Homo sapiens to turn into behaviourally modern people? Was it a genetic switch that created a different type of cognitively superior person?

The reason for these bursts in cultural activity is not to do with changes in our ancestors’ individual brains but in their collective brains – changes resulting from human demography and networks.

[T]he most important decider seems to be group size: usually, the bigger the group, the bigger the diversity of cultural practices. Those that are particularly successful at increasing a society’s population – such as practices that improve nutrition, fertility or reduce infant mortality – will, of course, produce more carriers of that practice, so spread faster and further… Geneticists recently discovered that the greatest population boom in prehistory occurred 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, which helps to explain a swathe of cultural explosions seen at this time, from present-day Germany to Indonesia.

Related article:  Coronavirus evolutionary tree can illuminate pandemic’s ‘past, present and possible future’

The great flowering of culture we enjoy from our Cro-Magnon ancestors was not evidence of a cleverer, ‘more evolved’ people but because the demographic, social, environmental and cultural changes that occurred at this time in Europe drove cultural complexity.

Read the original post

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend