June 16, 2011

WE ARE ALL DESIGNISTS:

The Origin of Our Species by Chris Stringer - review: A valuable guide to human prehistory (Peter Forbes, 6/15/11, guardian.co.uk)

Stringer is most concerned with the period from the emergence of Homo sapiens in Africa, around 195,000 years ago, to their arrival in Europe and the subsequent demise of the Neanderthals (who had left Africa hundreds of thousands of years before). The archaeological record shows Homo sapiens in Africa several times on the verge of a cultural breakthrough, but this is not consolidated until their arrival in Europe. Stringer writes: "It is as though the candle glow of modernity was intermittent, repeatedly flickering on and off again."

The introduction of farming, first in Iraq and Turkey, was the single greatest event in the evolution of Homo sapiens since its emergence. From farming flowed, in an incredibly short time, population growth, craft, art, religion and technology.

New cultural practices led to radical genetic changes, the ability of northern Europeans to digest cow's milk being the most dramatic. This followed the adoption of cattle rearing and reverses the idea that genetic mutations have initiated innovation. Just as often, it seems, it has been culture that has led, genes that have followed.


Sublime.


Posted by at June 16, 2011 2:49 PM
  

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