Becoming Human by Scientific American

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Thus, the more connected a social network, the more likely it is that the group will retain any skill that is invented, so that in the end tolerant populations support a greater number of such behaviors. Our work in the wild shows us that most learning in nature, aside from simple conditioning, may have a social component, at least in primates. In contrast, most laboratory experiments that investigate how animals learn are aimed at revealing the subject’s ability for individual learning. Indeed, if the lab psychologist’s puzzle were presented under natural conditions, where myriad stimuli compete for attention, the subject might never realize that a problem was waiting to be solved.

The tools found Dmanisi side choppers w w w. s c ia m . c o m at Dmanisi, however, are simple flakes and choppers (left and center) manufactured according to much the same primitive Oldowan tradition that hominids in Africa were practicing nearly a million years earlier. Acheulean hand ax SCIENTIFIC A MERIC A N 43 of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, the village of Dmanisi is just a twohour drive, yet it seems a world apart from the bustle of the dieseland dust-choked city. Here in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, donkey-drawn carts outnumber cars and the air is fragrant with hay.

There is work for generations here,” Lordkipanidze agrees, noting that he can envision his grandchildren working at the site decades from now. Who knows what new frontiers humans will have explored by then? com MORE TO EXPLORE Earliest Pleistocene Hominid Cranial Remains from Dmanisi, Republic of Georgia: Taxonomy, Geological Setting, and Age. Leo Gabunia, Abesalom Vekua, David Lordkipanidze et al. in Science, Vol. 288, pages 1019–1025; May 12, 2000. The Environmental Context of Early Human Occupation in Georgia (Transcaucasia).

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