Robert Foley (Department of Archaeology and Anthropology) discusses the cumulative processes by which we became human.
First evidence for a species difference in the innate predisposition for tool use in our closest evolutionary cousins could provide insight into how humans became the ultimate tool-using ape.
Researchers used the new survey of the Messak Settafet to estimate that enough stone tools were discarded over the course of human evolution in Africa to build more than one Great Pyramid for every square kilometre of land on the continent.
When food is scarce, tool use among non-human primates does not increase. This counterintuitive finding leads researchers to suggest that the driving force behind tool use is ecological opportunity – and that the environment shapes development of culture.
New research shows that chimpanzees search for the right tools from a key plant species when preparing to ‘ant dip’ - a crafty technique enabling them to feast on army ants without getting bitten. The study shows that army ants are not a poor substitute for preferred foods, but a staple part of chimpanzee diets.
Recent finds at Willendorf in Austria reveal that modern humans were living in cool steppe-like conditions some 43,500 years ago – and that their presence overlapped with that of Neanderthals for far longer than we thought.