The Mental Evolution of Humans

Human evolution is studied extensively by many, but often, how humans evolved mentally is more overlooked. Our mental evolution is just as interesting, if not more so than our physical evolution, as our mind plays a huge part in defining who we are. Primates in general are known for their intelligence. The great apes are very intelligent and form complex social group like ours. Chimpanzees and others are known to be able to solve complex puzzles and to do some level of abstract reasoning. Early hominids probably had that ability and a little more. Tool use is not foreign to chimpanzees, so early hominids probably used simple tools. As hominids progressed, then they developed things like speech and found more ways to shape and control their environment. They started to make more complex tools like the earliest worked pieces of flint. Homo erectus was theorized to be the first to have had speech and control fire. Later on, Neanderthals also had intelligence in that they created their own tools and had evidence of even more profound things. Carefully laid burial sites were found of Neanderthal bones. Burying the dead is a huge step in our mental evolution, as it shows higher-level thinking. Thoughts of an afterlife are very abstract, and the burials suggested rituals as opposed to just disposing of the dead. The biggest leap in our mental evolution though, was when human achieved “behavioral modernity”. In the archaeological record, it seems that all of a sudden, our brains started to think on the higher-level thinking that we do now. “Elements of behavioral modernity include finely-made tools, fishing, long-distance sharing or exchange among groups, self-ornamentation, figurative art, games, music, cooking and burial.” (Wikipedia) These are the things that make us mentally unique amoungst our evolutionary ancestors and other primates today.

Image result for paleolithic people

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About persnicketythecat

I like ancient and medieval history!
This entry was posted in Archaeology and Anthropology, Paleolithic and Neolithic. Bookmark the permalink.

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