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« on: January 13, 2005, 02:44:18 PM »

Ancient Engravings Push Back Origin of Abstract Thought  

For all the attributes that humans share with other animals, there is a trait that clearly sets us apart: our reliance on symbolism. Exactly where and when in our lineage this and other aspects of modern human behavior emerged, however, have proved difficult to pinpoint. The fossil record indicates that anatomically modern humans had evolved by 100,000 years ago. Yet clear and abundant evidence for behavioral modernity only appears after 40,000 years ago. Now new findings may help to close that gap. According to a report published online today by the journal Science, excavations at a South African cave site have turned up two pieces of ochre bearing symbolic engravings that date back about 77,000 years to the so-called Middle Stone Age (MSA).

Full Article @ sciam.com
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