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Did Modern Humans Get Smart Or Just Get Together?

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Science  09 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5975, pp. 164
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5975.164

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Over the past decade, signs of "modern" behavior have been found much earlier in the archaeological record. The pattern of complex behavior that seems to flicker in and out of the record is difficult to reconcile with a gene that conferred a cognitive advance. So several researchers have suggested another kind of explanation: demography. Perhaps our complex culture does not stem simply from individual cognition but from the shared knowledge we construct in groups, as proposed in a talk at a recent high-level meeting on what makes humans unique. If so, factors such as population size and structure may have helped to kindle, extinguish, and rekindle modern behavior.