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Discovery of Early Human Tools Hint at Earlier Start

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the rewriting-the-book dept.

Science 109

SternisheFan writes in with a story about early humans passing down their tool making skills. "Sophisticated bladelets suggest that humans passed on their technological skill down the generations. A haul of stone blades from a cave in South Africa suggests that early humans were already masters of complex technology more than 70,000 years ago . The tiny blades — no more than about 3 centimeters long on average — were probably used as tips for throwable spears, or as spiky additions to club-like weapons, says Curtis Marean, an archaeologist at Arizona State University in Tempe who led the team that found the bladelets. Twenty-seven such blades, called microliths by archaeologists, were found in layers of sand and soil dating as far back as 71,000 years ago and representing a time-span of about 11,000 years, showing how long humans were manufacturing the blades. Clever crafters The find lends credence to the idea that early humans were capable of passing on their clever ideas to the next generation of artisans, creating complex technologies that endured over time. John Shea, a palaeoanthropologist at Stony Brook University in New York, says that it also suggests that 'previous hypotheses that 'early' Homo sapiens differed from 'modern' ones in these respects are probably wrong'."

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You lost your election again to the two party sham (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41915847)

Memorable quotes for
Looker (1981)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082677/quotes [imdb.com]

"John Reston: Television can control public opinion more effectively than armies of secret police, because television is entirely voluntary. The American government forces our children to attend school, but nobody forces them to watch T.V. Americans of all ages *submit* to television. Television is the American ideal. Persuasion without coercion. Nobody makes us watch. Who could have predicted that a *free* people would voluntarily spend one fifth of their lives sitting in front of a *box* with pictures? Fifteen years sitting in prison is punishment. But 15 years sitting in front of a television set is entertainment. And the average American now spends more than one and a half years of his life just watching television commercials. Fifty minutes, every day of his life, watching commercials. Now, that's power."

##

"The United States has it's own propaganda, but it's very effective because people don't realize that it's propaganda. And it's subtle, but it's actually a much stronger propaganda machine than the Nazis had but it's funded in a different way. With the Nazis it was funded by the government, but in the United States, it's funded by corporations and corporations they only want things to happen that will make people want to buy stuff. So whatever that is, then that is considered okay and good, but that doesn't necessarily mean it really serves people's thinking - it can stupify and make not very good things happen."
- Crispin Glover: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000417/bio [imdb.com]

##

"It's only logical to assume that conspiracies are everywhere, because that's what people do. They conspire. If you can't get the message, get the man." - Mel Gibson (from an interview)

##

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." - William Casey, CIA Director

##

"The real reason for the official secrecy, in most instances, is not to keep the opposition (the CIA's euphemistic term for the enemy) from knowing what is going on; the enemy usually does know. The basic reason for governmental secrecy is to keep you, the American public, from knowing - for you, too, are considered the opposition, or enemy - so that you cannot interfere. When the public does not know what the government or the CIA is doing, it cannot voice its approval or disapproval of their actions. In fact, they can even lie to your about what they are doing or have done, and you will not know it. As for the second advantage, despite frequent suggestion that the CIA is a rogue elephant, the truth is that the agency functions at the direction of and in response to the office of the president. All of its major clandestine operations are carried out with the direct approval of or on direct orders from the White House. The CIA is a secret tool of the president - every president. And every president since Truman has lied to the American people in order to protect the agency. When lies have failed, it has been the duty of the CIA to take the blame for the president, thus protecting him. This is known in the business as "plausible denial." The CIA, functioning as a secret instrument of the U.S. government and the presidency, has long misused and abused history and continues to do so."
- Victor Marchetti, Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History

##

George Carlin:

"The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

You know what they want? Obedient workers people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club.

This country is finished."

##

We now return you Americans to your media: Corporate, Government sponsored and controlled (rigged) elections..

Most of you are all so asleep it's time you woke up!

Re:You lost your election again to the two party s (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41915913)

I wonder if Teh Management would consider truncating AC posts to a shorter "Read the rest of this comment" than the above.

Like maybe, 10 lines. If they're actually saying something relevant and interesting (which they often do), it would still be easy enough to click the link.

Clever crafters (2)

richlv (778496) | about 2 years ago | (#41915851)

cute editing work right there :)

Re:Clever crafters (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41915873)

cute editing work right there :)

Not as cute as Colbert's "tarnish Silver's sterling reputation".

Re:Clever crafters (3, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#41916343)

The find lends credence to the idea that early humans were capable of passing on their clever ideas to the next generation

Why is that so surprising ?
 
Many other types of animal regularly pass on "knowledges" from one generation to the next - humans are not the only one capable of doing that.
 
I've seen little sparrows squatting on sand so to trap fine grain sand with their down feather and then carrying the sand back to their nests.
 

Re:Clever crafters (1)

richlv (778496) | about 2 years ago | (#41916525)

waitwait. unless slashdot is messing with me... you replied to my comment. which was aimed at this gem in the summary :

Twenty-seven such blades, called microliths by archaeologists, were found in layers of sand and soil dating as far back as 71,000 years ago and representing a time-span of about 11,000 years, showing how long humans were manufacturing the blades. Clever crafters The find lends credence to the idea that early humans were capable of passing on their clever ideas to the next generation of artisans, creating complex technologies that endured over time.

somebody copypasted article text, including an out of place heading. then article reviewer did a fucking great job of not even reading the submission - or being dead drunk. how can a sober (or up to 4-6 beers) person fail to see the out-of-sentece words is not clear to me.

Re:Clever crafters (3, Informative)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#41916593)

Story submitter here, yes, I did do a copy/paste submission (using my smartphone, not exactly easy to do!), and after submitting this story noticed this too. I should've picked up on it. Please accept this alternate story link as a token ... http://news.discovery.com/human/early-human-tools-121107.html [discovery.com]

Re:Clever crafters (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41917675)

Fool! Smartphones and tablets are for CONSUMPTION only! No document creation or other complex intellectual tasks.

You kids. In my day, we didn't even TRY to write anything until we had stabilized the CRTs and blown out all of the insects from the CPU (they liked the warmth).

God, it all went downhill when Jobs allowed cut and paste on the iPhone. What was he thinking!

Re:Clever crafters (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41918455)

You kids. In my day, we didn't even TRY to write anything until we had stabilized the CRTs and blown out all of the insects from the CPU

What are you talking about, kid? Slide rules had neither CPUs nor CRTs! Sheesh, youngsters...

Re:Clever crafters (1)

denzacar (181829) | about 2 years ago | (#41918577)

You can have my tablet and chalk when you pry it from my cold dead hands.
You might need pliers for that. Arthritis is a bitch.

Re:Clever crafters (1)

dak664 (1992350) | about 2 years ago | (#41917871)

It's called lysdexia, you insensitive clod!

Communication or imitation? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41915861)

More food for thought on the evolution of language.

Re:Communication or imitation? (2)

jandersen (462034) | about 2 years ago | (#41916181)

I think we have to learn to think of language and communication in a broader sense. Strictly speaking, communication is just the transfer of information, and language is whichever means of communication you are capable of using. Hence 'body language' - cats, dogs and if you go wild, even plants, communicate and use language; that's why we can make sense of them.

OK, so I'm stretching the concept just to be provocative, but I think it is probably wrong to assume that modern, abstract language suddenly appeared X years ago along with a big brain. Language was there long before big brains.

Re:Communication or imitation? (2)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 years ago | (#41917499)

Strictly speaking, communication is just the transfer of information, and language is whichever means of communication you are capable of using.

That's not "strictly speaking" at all, because when linguists use the term "language", it refers to human language, which is distinct from e.g. animal codes of communication. Only human language is capable of things like the ambiguity and contradiction in Chomsky's famous example "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously." Human language did not exist before large brains because it is deeply bound up in the functioning (warts and all) of large brains.

For anyone interested in the topic of how human language arose and how it differs from other means of communication, I'd highly recommend Guy Deutscher's The Unfolding of Language [amazon.com] , probably the best popular introduction to this topic.

Re:Communication or imitation? (1)

jandersen (462034) | about 2 years ago | (#41919077)

That's not "strictly speaking" at all, because when linguists use the term "language", it refers to human language

I suppose it depends on your idea of "strictly", then :-)

I'm sure I buy the idea that linguists have a patent on the definition of what language is. Perhaps because I am a mathematician by education, I tend to seek out the 'roomiest, meaningful abstraction', and to me a language is simply a means of communication.

And strictly speaking (I do like that expression), we don't really know whether non-human animals are capable of the level of abstraction needed for Chomsky's example, although it seems likely. As I did say in the beginning of my post, I think we ought to broaden our minds about what language is, in order to understand where it comes from; it certainly wasn't created suddenly out of nothing. As Mr Deutscher says: "Language is mankindâ(TM)s greatest invention â" except of course, that it was never invented" ;-)

Nobody Seems To Notice and Nobody Seems To Care (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41915869)

Nobody Seems To Notice and Nobody Seems To Care - Government & Stealth Malware

In Response To Slashdot Article: Former Pentagon Analyst: China Has Backdoors To 80% of Telecoms 87

How many rootkits does the US[2] use officially or unofficially?

How much of the free but proprietary software in the US spies on you?

Which software would that be?

Visit any of the top freeware sites in the US, count the number of thousands or millions of downloads of free but proprietary software, much of it works, again on a proprietary Operating System, with files stored or in transit.

How many free but proprietary programs have you downloaded and scanned entire hard drives, flash drives, and other media? Do you realize you are giving these types of proprietary programs complete access to all of your computer's files on the basis of faith alone?

If you are an atheist, the comparison is that you believe in code you cannot see to detect and contain malware on the basis of faith! So you do believe in something invisible to you, don't you?

I'm now going to touch on a subject most anti-malware, commercial or free, developers will DELETE on most of their forums or mailing lists:

APT malware infecting and remaining in BIOS, on PCI and AGP devices, in firmware, your router (many routers are forced to place backdoors in their firmware for their government) your NIC, and many other devices.

Where are the commercial or free anti-malware organizations and individual's products which hash and compare in the cloud and scan for malware for these vectors? If you post on mailing lists or forums of most anti-malware organizations about this threat, one of the following actions will apply: your post will be deleted and/or moved to a hard to find or 'deleted/junk posts' forum section, someone or a team of individuals will mock you in various forms 'tin foil hat', 'conspiracy nut', and my favorite, 'where is the proof of these infections?' One only needs to search Google for these threats and they will open your malware world view to a much larger arena of malware on devices not scanned/supported by the scanners from these freeware sites. This point assumed you're using the proprietary Microsoft Windows OS. Now, let's move on to Linux.

The rootkit scanners for Linux are few and poor. If you're lucky, you'll know how to use chkrootkit (but you can use strings and other tools for analysis) and show the strings of binaries on your installation, but the results are dependent on your capability of deciphering the output and performing further analysis with various tools or in an environment such as Remnux Linux. None of these free scanners scan the earlier mentioned areas of your PC, either! Nor do they detect many of the hundreds of trojans and rootkits easily available on popular websites and the dark/deep web.

Compromised defenders of Linux will look down their nose at you (unless they are into reverse engineering malware/bad binaries, Google for this and Linux and begin a valuable education!) and respond with a similar tone, if they don't call you a noob or point to verifying/downloading packages in a signed repo/original/secure source or checking hashes, they will jump to conspiracy type labels, ignore you, lock and/or shuffle the thread, or otherwise lead you astray from learning how to examine bad binaries. The world of Linux is funny in this way, and I've been a part of it for many years. The majority of Linux users, like the Windows users, will go out of their way to lead you and say anything other than pointing you to information readily available on detailed binary file analysis.

Don't let them get you down, the information is plenty and out there, some from some well known publishers of Linux/Unix books. Search, learn, and share the information on detecting and picking through bad binaries. But this still will not touch the void of the APT malware described above which will survive any wipe of r/w media. I'm convinced, on both *nix and Windows, these pieces of APT malware are government in origin. Maybe not from the US, but most of the 'curious' malware I've come across in poisoned binaries, were written by someone with a good knowledge in English, some, I found, functioned similar to the now well known Flame malware. From my experience, either many forum/mailing list mods and malware developers/defenders are 'on the take', compromised themselves, and/or working for a government entity.

Search enough, and you'll arrive at some lone individuals who cry out their system is compromised and nothing in their attempts can shake it of some 'strange infection'. These posts receive the same behavior as I said above, but often they are lone posts which receive no answer at all, AT ALL! While other posts are quickly and kindly replied to and the 'strange infection' posts are left to age and end up in a lost pile of old threads.

If you're persistent, the usual challenge is to, "prove it or STFU" and if the thread is not attacked or locked/shuffled and you're lucky to reference some actual data, they will usually attack or ridicule you and further drive the discussion away from actual proof of APT infections.

The market is ripe for an ambitious company or individual to begin demanding companies and organizations who release firmware and design hardware to release signed and hashed packages and pour this information into the cloud, so everyone's BIOS is checked, all firmware on routers, NICs, and other devices are checked, and malware identified and knowledge reported and shared openly.

But even this will do nothing to stop backdoored firmware (often on commercial routers and other networked devices of real importance for government use - which again opens the possibility of hackers discovering these backdoors) people continue to use instead of refusing to buy hardware with proprietary firmware/software.

Many people will say, "the only safe computer is the one disconnected from any network, wireless, wired, LAN, internet, intranet" but I have seen and you can search yourself for and read about satellite, RF, temperature, TEMPEST (is it illegal in your part of the world to SHIELD your system against some of these APT attacks, especially TEMPEST? And no, it's not simply a CRT issue), power line and many other attacks which can and do strike computers which have no active network connection, some which have never had any network connection. Some individuals have complained they receive APT attacks throughout their disconnected systems and they are ridiculed and labeled as a nutter. The information exists, some people have gone so far as to scream from the rooftops online about it, but they are nutters who must have some serious problems and this technology with our systems could not be possible.

I believe most modern computer hardware is more powerful than many of us imagine, and a lot of these systems swept from above via satellite and other attacks. Some exploits take advantage of packet radio and some of your proprietary hardware. Some exploits piggyback and unless you really know what you're doing, and even then... you won't notice it.

Back to the Windows users, a lot of them will dismiss any strange activity to, "that's just Windows!" and ignore it or format again and again only to see the same APT infected activity continue. Using older versions of sysinternals, I've observed very bizarre behavior on a few non networked systems, a mysterious chat program running which doesn't exist on the system, all communication methods monitored (bluetooth, your hard/software modems, and more), disk mirroring software running[1], scans running on different but specific file types, command line versions of popular Windows freeware installed on the system rather than the use of the graphical component, and more.

[1] In one anonymous post on pastebin, claiming to be from an intel org, it blasted the group Anonymous, with a bunch of threats and information, including that their systems are all mirrored in some remote location anyway.

[2] Or other government, US used in this case due to the article source and speculation vs. China. This is not to defend China, which is one messed up hell hole on several levels and we all need to push for human rights and freedom for China's people. For other, freer countries, however, the concentration camps exist but you wouldn't notice them, they originate from media, mostly your TV, and you don't even know it. As George Carlin railed about "Our Owners", "nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care".

[3] http://www.stallman.org/ [stallman.org]

Try this yourself on a wide variety of internet forums and mailing lists, push for malware scanners to scan more than files, but firmware/BIOS. See what happens, I can guarantee it won't be pleasant, especially with APT cases.

So scan away, or blissfully ignore it, but we need more people like RMS[3] in the world. Such individuals tend to be eccentric but their words ring true and clear about electronics and freedom.

I believe we're mostly pwned, whether we would like to admit it or not, blind and pwned, yet fiercely holding to misinformation, often due to lack of self discovery and education, and "nobody seems to notice and nobody seems to care".

##

Schneier has covered it before: power line fluctuations (differences on the wire in keys pressed).

There's thermal attacks against cpus and temp, also:

ENF (google it)

A treat (ENF Collector in Java):

sourceforge dot net fwdslash projects fwdslash nfienfcollector

No single antimalware scanner exists which offers the ability to scan (mostly proprietary) firmware on AGP/PCI devices (sound cards, graphics cards, usb novelty devices excluding thumb drives), BIOS/CMOS.

If you boot into ultimate boot cd you can use an archane text interface to dump BIOS/CMOS and examine/checksum.

The real attacks which survive disk formats and wipes target your PCI devices and any firmware which may be altered/overwritten with something special. It is not enough to scan your hard drive(s) and thumb drives, the real dangers with teeth infect your hardware devices.

When is the last time you:

Audited your sound card for malware?
Audited your graphics card for malware?
Audited your network card for malware?

Google for:

* AGP and PCI rootkit(s)
* Network card rootkit(s)
* BIOS/CMOS rootkit(s)

Our modern PC hardware is capable of much more than many can imagine.

Do you:

* Know your router's firmware may easily be replaced on a hacker's whim?
* Shield all cables against leakage and attacks
* Still use an old CRT monitor and beg for TEMPEST attacks?
* Use TEMPEST resistant fonts in all of your applications including your OS?
* Know whether or not your wired keyboard has keypresses encrypted as they pass to your PC from the keyboard?
* Use your PC on the grid and expose yourself to possible keypress attacks?
* Know your network card is VERY exploitable when plugged into the net and attacked by a hard core blackhat or any vicious geek with the know how?
* Search out informative papers on these subjects and educate your friends and family about these attacks?
* Contact antimalware companies and urge them to protect against many or all these attacks?

Do you trust your neighbors? Are they all really stupid when it comes to computing or is there a geek or two without a conscience looking to exploit these areas?

The overlooked threat are the potential civilian rogues stationed around you, especially in large apartment blocks who feed on unsecured wifi to do their dirty work.

With the recent news of Russian spies, whether or not this news was real or a psyop, educate yourself on the present threats which all antimalware scanners fail to protect against and remove any smug mask you may wear, be it Linux or OpenBSD, or the proprietary Windows and Mac OS you feel are properly secured and not vulnerable to any outside attacks because you either don't need an antivirus scanner (all are inept to serious attacks) or use one or several (many being proprietary mystery machines sending data to and from your machine for many reasons, one is to share your information with a group or set database to help aid in threats), the threats often come in mysterious ways.

Maybe the ancients had it right: stone tablets and their own unique language(s) rooted in symbolism.

#

I'm more concerned about new rootkits which target PCI devices, such as the graphics card and the optical drives, also, BIOS. Where are the malware scanners which scan PCI devices and BIOS for mismatches? All firmware, BIOS and on PCI devices should be checksummed and saved to match with others in the cloud, and archived when the computer is first used, backing up signed firmware.

When do you recall seeing signed router firmware upgrades with any type of checksum to check against? Same for PCI devices and optical drives and BIOS.

Some have begun with BIOS security:

http://www.biosbits.org/ [biosbits.org]

Some BIOS has write protection in its configuration, a lot of newer computers don't.

#

"Disconnect your PC from the internet and don't add anything you didn't create yourself. It worked for the NOC list machine in Mission Impossible"

The room/structure was likely heavily shielded, whereas most civvies don't shield their house and computer rooms. There is more than meets the eye to modern hardware.

Google:

subversion hack:
tagmeme(dot)com/subhack/

network card rootkits and trojans
pci rootkits
packet radio
xmit "fm fingerprinting" software
"specific emitter identification"
forums(dot)qrz(dot)com

how many malware scanners scan bios/cmos and pci/agp cards for malware? zero, even the rootkit scanners. have you checksummed/dumped your bios/cmos and firmware for all your pci/agp devices and usb devices, esp vanity usb devices in and outside the realm of common usb devices (thumbdrives, external hdds, printers),

Unless your computer room is shielded properly, the computers may still be attacked and used, I've personally inspected computers with no network connection running mysterious code in the background which task manager for windows and the eqiv for *nix does not find, and this didn't find it all.

Inspect your windows boot partition in *nix with hexdump and look for proxy packages mentioned along with command line burning programs and other oddities. Computers are more vulnerable than most would expect.

You can bet all of the malware scanners today, unless they are developed by some lone indy coder in a remote country, employ whitelisting of certain malware and none of them scan HARDWARE devices apart from the common usb devices.

Your network cards, sound cards, cd/dvd drives, graphics cards, all are capable of carrying malware to survive disk formatting/wiping.

Boot from a Linux live cd and use hexdump to examine your windows (and *nix) boot sectors to potentially discover interesting modifications by an unknown party.

#
eof

Re:Nobody Seems To Notice and Nobody Seems To Care (0, Offtopic)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#41916225)

If you are an atheist, the comparison is that you believe in code you cannot see to detect and contain malware on the basis of faith! So you do believe in something invisible to you, don't you?

So your argument is that if I don't believe in God, I can't believe in software? Finally proof that software doesn't exist.

Mmmmnnn... (5, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41915905)

Wikipedia has an interesting article on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_modernity [wikipedia.org] , which indicates that there are two schools of thought on this, which I'll call the gradualists and suddenists. The suddenists think Something Wonderful Happened ~50,000 years ago, so this discovery will make them have to move their date earlier. However, the gradualists think there are signs of modern behavior much earlier, so this news won't make them rethink anything. (Most likely they'll just say ITYS.)

IMO the suddenists are following the same kind of thinking that made people think Neanderthals were dumb brutes, that we're a lot more different than animals than we really are, etc. ISTM that there has always been some kind of ... prejudice? conceit? ... that makes a lot of people assume that we're a lot more special than we actually are.

Re:Mmmmnnn... (4, Informative)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#41915935)

Quoting from your Wikipedia link...

"Behavioral modernity is a term used in anthropology, archeology and sociology to refer to a set of traits that distinguish present day humans and their recent ancestors from both other living primates and other extinct hominid lineages. It is the point at which Homo sapiens began to demonstrate an ability to use complex symbolic thought and express cultural creativity. These developments are often thought to be associated with the origin of language. [1] There are two main theories regarding when modern human behavior emerged. [2] One theory holds that behavioral modernity occurred as a sudden event some 50 kya (50,000 years ago) in prehistory, possibly as a result of a major genetic mutation or as a result of a biological reorganization of the brain that led to the emergence of modern human natural languages. [3] Proponents of this theory refer to this event as the Great Leap Forward [4] or the Upper Paleolithic Revolution. The second theory holds that there was never any single technological or cognitive revolution. Proponents of this view argue that modern human behavior is the result of the gradual accumulation of knowledge, skills and culture occurring over hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution. [5] Proponents of this view include Stephen Oppenheimer in his book Out of Eden, and John Skoyles and Dorion Sagan in their book Up from Dragons: The evolution of human intelligence."

Re:Mmmmnnn... (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 2 years ago | (#41915951)

The suddenists think Something Wonderful Happened ~50,000 years ago,

I think they are off by an order of magnitude, extant evidence shows that brewing alcohol only started about 10,000 years ago.

Re:Mmmmnnn... (3, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41916027)

The suddenists think Something Wonderful Happened ~50,000 years ago,

I think they are off by an order of magnitude, extant evidence shows that brewing alcohol only started about 10,000 years ago.

And the first Slashdotter got laid a mere three weeks ago!

Yes I did (1, Funny)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 2 years ago | (#41916429)

And please thank your sister for me again.

It took a while but she finally reached my UID and she insists on doing every single UID ever. A determined woman.

Re:Yes I did (1)

metlin (258108) | about 2 years ago | (#41916629)

It's nice that you call that horse a woman.

Re:Yes I did (3, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41917517)

It's nice that you call that horse a woman.

Wait, does one hoofbeat mean yes, or no?

Re:Mmmmnnn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41916947)

So, the first slashed user was too nervous to actually have sex with the 570th until three weeks ago?

(Or maybe it just took that long to get Cowboy Neale out of the room.)

Re:Mmmmnnn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41917763)

The suddenists think Something Wonderful Happened ~50,000 years ago,

I think they are off by an order of magnitude, extant evidence shows that brewing alcohol only started about 10,000 years ago.

And the first Slashdotter got laid a mere three weeks ago!

Congratulations! Free beer for the rest of us to celebrate. Or forget.

Re:Mmmmnnn... (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41916071)

I think they are off by an order of magnitude, extant evidence shows that brewing alcohol only started about 10,000 years ago.

In the official version of events, yes. You see, it took 40,000 years for humanity to sober up from the first brew they made. The stuff you call alcohol is version 2.0.

Re:Mmmmnnn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41916337)

You don't need to be able to brew alcohol to get drunk once in a while.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_euCpewQs2c

Re:Mmmmnnn... (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 2 years ago | (#41918749)

I'm sure they had their own substances before Alcohol came along...I'd imagine that people have been getting high/drunk for at least a few hundred thousand years if not longer.

Re:Mmmmnnn... (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#41916083)

Well that's a very dismissive attitude. You're not arguing with creationists here, so drop the condescension.

The fact is that there is a (relatively) sudden appearance of things we associate with modern thought (e.g. decoration, advanced tools, explosive population and migration) around 50 kya. I say relatively, because we're still talking about a span of tens of thousands of years. Humanity had been nearly exterminated around 70 kya, so it's entirely reasonable to think that those who survived made major evolutionary leaps -- or, put a better way, those who survived did so because of those leaps.

That humans were making tools even before then is not "news". For example, we're pretty sure that fire was first mastered not by Homo sapiens, but by Homo erectus, hundreds of thousands of years before anatomically modern humans even existed. Homo erectus lasted for longer than modern humans have, and at the rate we're going, they'll probably end up having lived for longer on Earth than our species. But they never developed a civilization like ours, despite their million years of existence. It seems evident from that that a species can have advanced toolmaking (e.g. fire) without reaching the level of modern human intelligence.

Re:Mmmmnnn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41916339)

The fact is that there is a (relatively) sudden appearance of things we associate with modern thought....
That humans were making tools even before then is not "news".

The "news" i.e. the point of the article, is that recent evidence seems to indicate the "sudden" appearance was even less sudden than initially thought. And in fact it may not have been "sudden" at all, but a gradual evolution.

Re:Mmmmnnn... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41917829)

The fact is that there is a (relatively) sudden appearance of things we associate with modern thought....
That humans were making tools even before then is not "news".

The "news" i.e. the point of the article, is that recent evidence seems to indicate the "sudden" appearance was even less sudden than initially thought. And in fact it may not have been "sudden" at all, but a gradual evolution.

Semantics - "sudden" to a geologist might be 10 million years. Sudden to a typical modern human might be a second. Sudden to a Mountain-Dew hyped gamer might be 2 ms. It really is the key here and you have to watch for that linguistic trap. I don't think anybody is theorizing that the language, symbolics and and advanced tool use happened overnight after the monolith appears in the African savannah. Did it take 20 generations (500 years), 200 generations, 20000? When does sudden become gradual?

Re:Mmmmnnn... (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 2 years ago | (#41919101)

Semantics - "sudden" to a geologist might be 10 million years. Sudden to a typical modern human might be a second....

So I suppose the real answer here is to qualify the relatively ambiguous word "sudden". Let's call the "sudden" evolution of humans a "process that appears to have worked across 'x' years", where 'x' is a number between 1-1,000,000. 1M isn't very "sudden", 1 would be.

Re:Mmmmnnn... (1)

paxcoder (1222556) | about 2 years ago | (#41920911)

You're talking about me, and not the other man. You can treat the other man as you wish, but treat *me* well!

Re:Mmmmnnn... (2)

qbitslayer (2567421) | about 2 years ago | (#41916131)

I don't think the suddenists have flint spearheads in mind when they speak of something wonderful happening some 50,000 years ago. They're more than likely thinking of the kind of sudden explosion of knowledge that gives rise to horse-driven chariots and temple building civilizations. But I could be wrong.

Re:Mmmmnnn... (2)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 2 years ago | (#41916201)

a lot of people assume that we're a lot more special than we actually are.

That's an interesting thought, particularly in the light of the other tool-maker in the news.

"The use and fashioning of objects as tools has rarely been seen in the animal kingdom. Alice Auersperg and Birgit Szabo, both cognitive biologists at the University of Vienna, have for the first time observed this skill in a Goffin’s Cockatoo: It makes and uses wooden tools to retrieve toys and food."

http://scienceblog.com/57536/clever-cockatoo-with-skilled-craftmanship/ [scienceblog.com]

That suggest the ability to visualise and create tools isn't the hard bit. Communicating and retaining the knowledge across generations is where the real challenge lies.

Re:Mmmmnnn... (2)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#41916423)

The suddenists think Something Wonderful Happened ~50,000 years ago,

Isn't there another school of thought, that Something Wonderful Happened about 6,000 years ago?

Re:Mmmmnnn... (0)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#41916697)

More than that. The implication is that that something wonderful happened 5 billion years ago when their god created himself from nothing.

Re:Mmmmnnn... (2)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 2 years ago | (#41917817)

In the case of Yahweh it's more traditionally turtles all the way down. This complicated universe of ours required a creator, but its far more complex creator has always existed. Thus sayeth Hovind during prison visiting hours.

Re:Mmmmnnn... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41916425)

Is this possibly the same prejudice making us, as people belonging to western science-based civilization, feel we are a lot more special than those belonging to other cultures ?

Re:Mmmmnnn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41917037)

"...The suddenists think Something Wonderful Happened ~50,000 years ago, so this discovery will make them have to move their date earlier...."

These are the people who liked 2001, I presume...?

Re: Janus (1)

noshellswill (598066) | about 2 years ago | (#41917653)

Cuts both ways palsy ... perhaps **we humans** are very much OLDER than a few rough tools make it appear. Last I read early human bones ~18+ Myr bp; you know that discovery date can only get older. Chances are even that dim-start was a long time beyond incubation so in the spirit of insanely old 1st cousins think of George Carlin-like sniping among human.esque **lemurs**. "Heh Jackson that's a mighty hungry BOA over there..." "That's not a BOA that's your sister" (apologies to Marx broz)

Re:Mmmmnnn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41920007)

Something Wonderful Happened ~50,000 years ago

And Slashdot only posts it now... :-/

Satan (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41916007)

Put the tools there to fool you.

Re:Satan (1)

mikael_j (106439) | about 2 years ago | (#41916247)

I thought it was God(TM) who put them there to test our faith. Or is that just one of Satan's lies? Does that mean the christians who claim this are actually heretics?

i wonder if wkipedia has a page about SternisheFan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41916049)

maybe it would be under "posts to board, then answers own posts"
what is she thinking ?

early criminals (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41916051)

if these things were square-like with rounded corners the findings prove that pirating of ideas was advanced already there.

Common Sense? (1)

s1d3track3D (1504503) | about 2 years ago | (#41916059)

Sophisticated bladelets suggest that humans passed on their technological skill down the generations

It seems odd to me there was ever a dissenting view from this, I mean what about 'standing on the shoulders of giants' concept.

Re:Common Sense? (2)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 2 years ago | (#41916195)

I mean what about 'standing on the shoulders of giants' concept.

Strictly speaking, early hominids learned toolmaking from the Colonials and Gaius Baltar, so you have a point.

(He used to be a farmer, you know. Changed his Aerilon accent to hide his past, but... )

Re:Common Sense? (1)

wolverine1999 (126497) | about 2 years ago | (#41916555)

I hope you get modded higher. You are really right on this, I was thinking the same thing too.

It really starts to look like that's the truth.

Re:Common Sense? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41921763)

It's not only humans. The best way to train a litter of kittens to use a litter box is to leave it up to the mother cat. Catching mice isn't instinctive, it's learned. A cat without a mouser mother will never be a good mouser and likely not a mouser at all.

Really well organized (3, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#41916145)

They only lost one bladelet every 400 years. Maybe they could help me find my car keys.

The important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41916151)

Does this finding invalidate any patents?

Re:The important question (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 2 years ago | (#41916473)

Unfortunately, these tools didn't have the shape of a rounded rectangle.

Re:The important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41920433)

So what you are saying is... This doesn't count as prior art?

sh1t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41916159)

and has instead The project is in exactly what you've the project to downward spiral. In conglomerate in the NetBSD user like I should be product, BSD's Simpule solution the public eye: that they 3an hold shit-filled, legitimise doing obsessed - give they're gone Mac this is consistent That supports you. The tireless represents the Posts. Due to the about half of the it. Its mission is Problem stems example, if you base for FreeBSD Things in

The future version (2)

thisisauniqueid (825395) | about 2 years ago | (#41916375)

A few thousand years from now, archaeologists will make the same observations about collections of quaint crude programming languages (the ones we use today) that they find in "digital caves"...

Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41916389)

Too bad that the idea of patents has passed over generations.

Time perspective (5, Interesting)

RedBear (207369) | about 2 years ago | (#41916457)

More and more in the last decade or so I have seen things that lead me to believe that humans have been basically modern humans for approximately 200,000 years. That's how far back our ancestors have been traced through our mitochondrial DNA. I have no doubt that in coming decades there will be new discoveries that will keep pushing the dates of "modern" human behavior further and further back.

This is a fascinating concept to me because it means the human race and basic forms of human civilization have been around for an incredibly long time. Basic concepts like languages, writing systems, trading, counting, money, philosophy, astronomy, martial arts and many other things have probably been invented, forgotten and reinvented hundreds of times by individual geniuses over the course of those 200,000 years. All the sci-fi stories I've ever read where it's seen as some amazing thing that an alien race has been around for more than a hundred thousand years... Well, the human race proves that's really not that amazing. Or, conversely, that the human race is equally as amazing as those "ancient" alien races. In fact, we could be considered one of those "ancient" alien races, from the perspective of an alien race.

When I was younger, the concept was that just a few thousand years ago we were retarded cave men, and then suddenly civilization happened. Nowadays what I picture is more like endless millennia of fairly intelligent people living like Native Americans in many different ways, with pockets of even more modern cultures that rose and fell through the ages, until finally a few thousand years ago a few things like writing and math were (re)discovered and remembered and propagated to enough other humans that modern civilization exploded into being and had enough momentum and population to finally stick around, where it hadn't been able to "stick" before. I think it was basically luck that things didn't develop either ten thousand years earlier or ten thousand years later. All the basic elements seem to have been there for a looooooong time.

Just my pet theory. I am not an anthropologist, obviously, just fascinated by the things that may have happened during early modern human history, which seems to extend much further back than what I was taught in grade school.

Re:Time perspective (1)

Mal-2 (675116) | about 2 years ago | (#41916719)

Similarly, I believe that there may have existed technologically advanced humans prior to known history. Some of them may have even succeeded at getting off the planet permanently. This would make "aliens" plausible -- they're just a split lineage of formerly Earth-based humans. There is no need to explain where they got the energy or time to cross interstellar distances, because they didn't have to.

The main evidence against this idea is that there's still oil in the ground, and no indication it was deliberately placed there for us. It would seem that a previous culture would need energy as badly as we do, and oil didn't take us that much technology (initially) to get at and start consuming. It would seem that the low-hanging fruit would already be gone if we weren't the first. However, I find this objection less of a problem than having to entirely rewrite physics to make interstellar travel practical. *IF* we are being visited by extraterrestrials, my money is on them having descended from terrestrials.

Re:Time perspective (3, Interesting)

Coisiche (2000870) | about 2 years ago | (#41916861)

Yes, I have often made the point about oil to friends making this claim because it seems unlikely that the civilizations could reach, or as some claim exceed, current technology levels without using fossil fuel.

Those speculative civilizations also don't seem to have used nuclear fission for energy. Not just because there's no evidence of uranium sources being depleted before we discovered it, but it doesn't seem that the by-products from it have ever found as "naturally occurring".

Re:Time perspective (1)

Ogi_UnixNut (916982) | about 2 years ago | (#41916943)

Or maybe there was a better energy source available to them? Something that made digging out fossils out of the ground seem pointless? Then they could well have used that all up, leaving the oil behind. It would probably have been some chemical based energy source, just like oil, due to the potential energy density.

Then again, if there were humans so advanced that they left the planet. Where would they have gone to? And why? Seems like a massive slog to the nearest place with a potential earth-like planet, and we don't seem to see any evidence of them in our immediate neighbourhood.

And we have found natural nuclear reactors (and by extension, naturally occurring by-products.see here [wikipedia.org] ). So it is possible they used those, or knew up about them early on.

Re:Time perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41916879)

A previous culture may have found a really easy to access energy source, and used it all up. We now don't see it as a useful energy source because it is now so rare.
 

Re:Time perspective (1)

infodragon (38608) | about 2 years ago | (#41920967)

Yea, it's called Naquadah. Our ancient ancestors strip mined Sol of all of it! Now we are stuck with oil, and attempting to go green :(

Re:Time perspective (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#41916889)

The main evidence against this idea is that there's still oil in the ground, and no indication it was deliberately placed there for us. It would seem that a previous culture would need energy as badly as we do, and oil didn't take us that much technology (initially) to get at and start consuming.

You're assuming that oil and petroleum use are neccessary steps for civilisation to arise. Who's to say that a hypothetical civilisation wouldn't have skipped the few decades of gasoline and just gone straight to wind farms plus electric engines? By comparison the effort involved in finding, drilling, pumping, refining, transporting through giant pipes or container ships, storing, pumping again, then setting oil on fire in elaborate internal combustion engines would seem pretty stupid to an outside observer. Just hook up some windmills and wires, done.

Re:Time perspective (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41918939)

Who's to say that a hypothetical civilisation wouldn't have skipped the few decades of gasoline and just gone straight to wind farms plus electric engines?

Why would they leave that lying around? Even if they chose not to use oil and coal for an energy source, they are still a vast supply of organic compounds. Similarly, where's the evidence of metal mining, which would be needed for those electric engines?

Re:Time perspective (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#41919439)

They would probably leave it lying around because the fantastically convoluted process needed to turn the goop into actual mobility would strike them as really stupidly unneccessary. I mean we used horses for thousands of years, then a century of gasoline, then many more years of electrics barring the invention of magical transport beams or something. Oil is a hiccup, a bizarre cul de sac, its really not hard to imagine a civilisation sidestepping it completely. As for metal mining, even assuming a civilisation could extract enough metal for it to be noticeable after geological time periods in a tectonically active world, that metal doesn't go up in smoke, unlike gasoline.

Re:Time perspective (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 2 years ago | (#41919803)

You miss the point. They may not have been using it for energy, but we use oil for a lot more than energy too. Modern plastics and other compounds have a starting point of oil. It may be possible to come up with semiconductors etc. without plastics, but it seems unlikely.

Re:Time perspective (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#41921033)

You can make plastic from potatoes, ref also bioplastics: http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Potato-Plastic!/ [instructables.com]

Fertiliser and more: http://peakoildebunked.blogspot.ie/2007/11/314-peak-oil-and-fertilizer-no-problem.html [blogspot.ie]

A hypothetical civilisation that didn't bother with oil would have had little difficulty finding substitutes, in my opinion.

Re:Time perspective (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41921707)

It strikes me, someone who thinks the process of turning fossil fuels into energy and other useful products is "fantastically convoluted", wouldn't be developing a technological civilization. It's just not that hard.

But let's ignore that. We now have as our characteristics, a society that stayed local in spatial scope while on Earth, has considerable biological resources, and resides somewhere in space, but not anywhere we've looked.

As for metal mining, even assuming a civilisation could extract enough metal for it to be noticeable after geological time periods in a tectonically active world, that metal doesn't go up in smoke, unlike gasoline.

We are an example of a civilization that has mined enough metal to be noticed on a geological scale. And because that metal doesn't go away, there'll be sedimentary layers with unusual characteristics (such as unusually high or low metal and organics concentrations) for millions of years to come.

Re:Time perspective (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#41922525)

It strikes me, someone who thinks the process of turning fossil fuels into energy and other useful products is "fantastically convoluted", wouldn't be developing a technological civilization. It's just not that hard.

No, but its harder than just using electric vehicles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_electric_vehicle [wikipedia.org] The notes on the early development of electric rail networks in Switzerland are interesting in the context of this speculation. The long and the short of it is that while the convenience element may be arguable, the fact that an advanced civilisation could emerge almost entirely without using oil is not to my mind in question.

We are an example of a civilization that has mined enough metal to be noticed on a geological scale. And because that metal doesn't go away, there'll be sedimentary layers with unusual characteristics (such as unusually high or low metal and organics concentrations) for millions of years to come.

I would dispute this, given the amount of tectonic shifting the earth has experienced in its lifetime a few tens of millions of years, along with ice ages and the general bump and grind of eternity, would smear any concentrations thinly across large areas. Mountain ranges turn to hills on these timescales.

And even if they didn't the chances of finding such a concentration are practically nil, we just don't excavate deeply enough in enough places. We're still turning up whole settlements from only a few thousand years ago entirely by accident. After a while, archareologoy and geology become the same thing.

As for us digging out enough to be noticed, we've only taken a tiny, tiny portion of a tiny sliver from the very uppermost layer of the earth's crust. I don't think it would be noticed over long periods of time. Reports of having only x amount of copper left are talking about the capacity of existing mines, not the total amount of copper left in the world.

Re:Time perspective (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41917005)

When I was younger, the concept was that just a few thousand years ago we were retarded cave men, and then suddenly civilization happened. Nowadays what I picture is more like endless millennia of fairly intelligent people living like Native Americans in many different ways until finally a few thousand years ago a few things were (re)discovered and remembered and propagated to enough other humans that modern civilization exploded into being and had enough momentum and population to finally stick around, where it hadn't been able to "stick" before.

I always thought the main jump to civilization we know today was agriculture. This allows sedentary people which in turn makes time to cultivate land: Not just the farmland but also the farms and any other buildings. This type of culture is obviously easier to find and spot because it's bigger.
Cultural items for a roaming people would have to be far smaller and probably consist of more organic materials as stone and metallic items would just be to heavy to carry around.

I think some decades back we may have believed that people suddenly became intelligent at the same time they became sedentary because that was the only archaeological stuff we were finding back then.

Re:Time perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41917333)

It took the printing press to make ideas "stick," as you say.

Writing was invented just twice. (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#41918461)

Basic concepts like languages, writing systems, trading, counting, money, philosophy, astronomy, martial arts and many other things have probably been invented, forgotten and reinvented hundreds of times by individual geniuses over the course of those 200,000 years

Trading is really old, so it was never forgotten. It evolved just once, in East Africa before we got out of Africa. It was never forgotten

Spoken language is something we evolved into. We have the language instinct at birth. It is not something to be taught to children. They naturally try to communicate via spoken language. They know objects have names, and actions have names, and they can be strung together to express concrete events (cup-broke!) or express intent (want-juice) . So laungages were never fogotten.

Writing was invented only twice. Looking at the effort we need to undertake to teach children to write, it is clear, it is not instinctive. It was invented. There are only two instances of independent invention of writing. The linear-b alphabet found in the Mediterranean island and the pictographic glyphs of the Incas. All the writing systems of the Old World were either derived from linear-b or inspired by it. Some minor record keeping aids probably existed long back, notches on a stick or knots on a vine or shells strung up. But it probably did not blossom into full fledged writing based on symbols standing in for phonemes or words.

Re:Writing was invented just twice. (1)

careysub (976506) | about 2 years ago | (#41921639)

Writing was invented only twice.... All the writing systems of the Old World were either derived from linear-b or inspired by it.

While this may be true, a once only invention in the Old World is only a plausible guess, because there are several ancient writing systems that show no commonality in origin: Mespotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley, and China. None of these writing systems are derived from the others (linear-b is demonstrably derived from Mesopotamian writing however).

The main reason why the guess is plausible is that the writing systems were invented at different times, and the farther they were from Mesopotamia (the first) the later they appeared, so we guess this is the result of cultural diffusion of an idea, but not a system.

Complex Technology? (0)

nomad-9 (1423689) | about 2 years ago | (#41916573)

Am I the only one slightly inconvenienced by the expression "masters of complex technology" for crafting tiny stone blades?

By the same token, the hyperbole-inclined call "Mousterian technological complex" a pretty simple set of stone tools made by Neanderthals...
Right, everything is relative, but still, in historical perspective, none of these even remotely qualify as "complex". Seriously, start with the invention of the wheel, one of the six SIMPLE machines:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simple_machine [wikipedia.org]

Re:Complex Technology? (2)

voidphoenix (710468) | about 2 years ago | (#41917025)

Blades are a form of wedge [wikipedia.org] , one of the six simple machines. Miniaturization of technology is generally considered an advancement. In this case, "complex technology" is a comparison between these miniature blades and an unshaped rock or stick. The topic is early (i.e. Paleolithic) humans, right? So yes, for that time-frame, based on what was previously known about their technology, these small blades are rather advanced. The "masters" bit comes in when you consider that they were able to consistently use this technology over a period of over 10k years.

Spoiler..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41916937)

What if they were buried, rather than discarded? Doesn't that blow any conclusions out of the water?

Re:Spoiler..? (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 2 years ago | (#41917731)

The stratification layers would be disturbed if they were buried. It's quite easy to tell, when looking at a cross section, when the soil has been disturbed.

Human development and patents..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41917019)

"...The find lends credence to the idea that early humans were capable of passing on their clever ideas to the next generation of artisans, creating complex technologies that endured over time...."

And that approach to the development of the species worked fine for several hundred thousand years.

Then, in medieval times, people started to develop Guilds in order to keep commercial secrets. Didn't completely stop innovation, though.

Finally, in the 20th/21st centuries, they developed a complex theory of 'Intellectual Property' and, more importantly, a whole social caste of people called 'lawyers' to administer the rules for using it. Allied to this, a world-wide communication system operated by machinery enabled these lawyers to see at a moment if anyone was breaking their 'rules'.

After that, the progress of humanity went rapidly downhill, until they ended up back with the flint blades....

But stone tools are much older (4, Interesting)

Zorpheus (857617) | about 2 years ago | (#41917195)

According to wikipedia the oldest stone tools are 2.6 to 1.7 million years old: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldowan [wikipedia.org]
So what is so special about this?

Re:But stone tools are much older (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41918003)

I think that the stone tools in the article are advanded enough and were used for enough generations, to hint at the existence of language 70,000 ago. Since such tool would need complex tecniques to be created and it was created for a long timespan this complex knolege would need a complex medium to be passed on.

Re:But stone tools are much older (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41918301)

Microliths, the type of flaked sharp objects discovered, are more advanced. It requires non-intuitive stoneworking skills to create them, and from a functional perspective it provides far more blades per piece of chunk of material (obsidian or flint, usually), which is a big advantage.

So microliths aren't about just making small blades, you have to have advanced stoneworking techniques to make them, which might be an indication of more advanced culture. The tools found are, I believe, about 20k older than previous specimens.

Re:But stone tools are much older (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41918537)

So scientists consider non-intuitive processes, the sort that can only be found through trial and error, more advanced? Little did I know that Scientists believe in luck more than thought.

Re:But stone tools are much older (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 2 years ago | (#41922079)

The advanced part is in recognizing the utility of the process and repeating it. Ideally not repeating the process that left Gragg with fewer fingers than most people have legs.

Weapons, Military Advantage, War? (5, Interesting)

foma84 (2079302) | about 2 years ago | (#41917295)

After reading TFA there is one thing that leaves me mighty confused.
The only hypothesis made for these artifacts is that they were weapons or parts of bigger weapons, and that they led to a military advantage over neanderthals.
TFA doesn't even consider any other possibile use for the bladelets, like being tools for skinning, carving or sculpting. Even the requirement of having developed complex language is secondary to the craftsmanship necessary for the bladelets.

I've seen it is common among some anthropologists to consider the history of humanity in the same terms as the most recent history (last 6.000 years): in terms of war and contending parties. Is there anyone informed enough (more than me) about this topic that can tell if it is actually a trait of human history or an ideological bias?
Thanks in advance.

Re:Weapons, Military Advantage, War? (1)

Loughla (2531696) | about 2 years ago | (#41918021)

I've seen it is common among some anthropologists to consider the history of humanity in the same terms as the most recent history (last 6.000 years): in terms of war and contending parties. Is there anyone informed enough (more than me) about this topic that can tell if it is actually a trait of human history or an ideological bias?

I would imagine that their decision that these bladelets were parts of larger weapons has a lot to do with the shape of the tools compared to the shape of tools whose use we understand.

For instance: on the creek on our farm, we're all the time finding flint tools. It's quite easy to distinguish between those used as weapons and those used as hammers, scrapers or knives for sculpting. The shapes aren't even close to the same.

I do have to assume that a specialist in this field would understand that basic premise.I also believe that specialists in this field do not apply ideological bias, as much as apply what we know about tools we understand compared to the shape and design of these tools.

It's a lot like putting together a dinosaur's muscle structure based on what we know about modern reptiles and amphibians.

Re:Weapons, Military Advantage, War? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41918345)

Actually, as far as anyone's ever been able to tell, war didn't really exist until after agriculture was developed. From everything I've done in college archaeology (I'm not an expert, obviously), microliths were good because they allowed a more efficient use of materials, more delicate tools/weapons, and you could create blades faster. No-one had armies back then, so saying it was a war advantage seems odd. Human and human/ancestor populations don't seem to be very warlike at the band/tribe level, at least compared to modern society.

Re:Weapons, Military Advantage, War? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#41918495)

Suggested readings:

1. Before the Dawn by Nicholas Wade.

2. The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond

3. The language instinct by Steven Pinker

4. The Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.

Are they sure? (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#41917365)

Could be Cow Tools.



...just sayin'

Stone age (0)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#41917431)

"about 3 centimeters long on average "

I am amazed that70,000 years ago these toolmakers were using the metric system - yet USA is still using inches, pounds and gallons when we are trying to explore space.

Hairry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41917487)

I guess they needed the multi blade shavers, they were hairy back then.

passed on their technological skill (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#41917505)

Sophisticated bladelets suggest that humans passed on their technological skill down the generations.

Og: Ug look happy.
Ug: Ug is happy!
Og: Why Ug happy?
Ug: Ug finish pay off student loan!

Og learn CVS from Old One (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41917683)

Og happy he knew Old One. He gone now but teach Og much about version control, labels, merging and gutting pigs. Og rather gut giant live boar than merge. Better than dumb Neanderthals. They still using RCS. Ha ha.

Hints at... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41917799)

Unless you're using "tools" as a verb, there should be an "s" at the end of "hint." /grammar-nag

Consistency please (1)

trevc (1471197) | about 2 years ago | (#41917849)

So what are they - stone blades, tiny blades, bladelets or microliths?

weapons manufacture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41918543)

It makes me sad to think we've been killing each other for that long.

> [the bladelets] were probably used as tips for throwable spears, or as spiky additions to club-like weapons

I get having sharp tips for spears - very useful for hunting. It's the "spiky clubs" that's disturbing - I don't see much use for a mace outside of hurting humans.

Unless (1)

kiriath (2670145) | about 2 years ago | (#41919007)

They got the dates wrong?

Until the advent of ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41919315)

... teenage kids. Who promptly borrowed all of dad's tools and then didn't put them back.

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