Special Reviews

Paleolithic Technology and Human Evolution

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Science  02 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5509, pp. 1748-1753
DOI: 10.1126/science.1059487

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Human biological and cultural evolution are closely linked to technological innovations. Direct evidence for tool manufacture and use is absent before 2.5 million years ago (Ma), so reconstructions of australopithecine technology are based mainly on the behavior and anatomy of chimpanzees. Stone tool technology, robust australopithecines, and the genus Homo appeared almost simultaneously 2.5 Ma. Once this adaptive threshold was crossed, technological evolution was accompanied by increased brain size, population size, and geographical range. Aspects of behavior, economy, mental capacities, neurological functions, the origin of grammatical language, and social and symbolic systems have been inferred from the archaeological record of Paleolithic technology.

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