Big brain evolution: Evidence of trading 300,000 years ago (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Friday, March 16, 2018, 15:20 (278 days ago) @ dhw

QUOTE: "The new discoveries... indicate that these behaviors emerged during a period of tremendous environmental variability in the region. As earthquakes remodeled the landscape and climate fluctuated between wet and dry conditions, technological innovation, social exchange networks and early symbolic communication would have helped early humans survive and obtain the resources they needed despite unpredictable conditions, the scientists say.
"'This change to a very sophisticated set of behaviors that involved greater mental abilities and more complex social lives may have been the leading edge that distinguished our lineage from other early humans…"
(David’s bold)

David’s comment: These artifacts appear at exactly the same time period that H. sapiens fossils are found. In our modern times, the moment we have a concept that requires implementation, we can do it immediately or immediately create a plan to do it. It seems that the same observation applies to our ancient relatives. I do not see that it supports dhw's theory that conceptual pressure in a previous form of hominin came first, then with enlargement (however that happened) the artifacts quickly appeared. Note my bolded sentence above.

dhw: I don’t follow your argument. The article makes it clear that environmental changes offered new challenges and so gave rise to new technologies. This would have applied both to sapiens and to pre-sapiens (though perhaps to a lesser degree). You keep telling us that God had to expand pre-sapiens' brains before they could come up with new concepts (thereby supporting the materialist view that the brain is the source of thought), and I argue that all the evidence we have supports the view that thought expands the brain. (Eventually I hope to reconcile these two hypotheses.) In the case of pre-sapiens, we know the brain expanded to such an extent that the skull also had to expand. In the case of sapiens, the skull does not expand because, even though certain areas of the brain still do expand (which is actually a new factor in our discussion), complexification ensures that the overall dimensions do not require any further expansion of the skull. Artefacts are the material implementation of concepts. They will “quickly appear” once the brain is able to give them material form. If that requires brain and skull expansion (pre-sapiens), then you won’t see them until the brain and skull have ALREADY expanded, and so the appearance of the artefacts cannot tell us which of our hypotheses is true.

My bold in your answer is right on the issue. Of course, the artifacts appear after the brain is enlarged. What it doesn't tell us is when concepts appear. The existing size and complexity of neuron networks is the material side of the interface between brain and s/s/c and in my view gives the s/s/c more in depth thought capacity. After all IQ varies from 60 to 200+, so a large part of the range must represent the brain's competence/ability to handle s/s/c thought. With this in mind advanced concepts require an advanced complexity in brain size and structure. Size first concepts second.

Your problem, as I see it, is your insistence upon what you think drives evolution. I see complexity while you see improvement. The nuance you miss is bacteria have never needed improvement, so multicellularity is from complexity drive, nothing more.


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