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22 April 2011
Evolution of human 'super-brain'

John Hoffecker - a researcher at University of Colorado, Boulder (USA) - says there is abundant fossil and archaeological evidence for the evolution of a human 'super-brain' - or collective mind - that spurred a modern capacity for novelty and invention no later than 75,000 years ago in Africa, and fostered language, art, and technology.
     The roots of the super-brain lie deep in our past and are likely tied to fundamental aspects of our evolution like bipedalism and making stone tools, he said.
     A 2007 study led by Hoffecker and colleagues at the Russian Academy of Sciences pinpointed the earliest evidence of modern humans in Europe dating back 45000 years. In addition to ancient bone and ivory needles, the multiple sites - collectively known as Kostenki, located on the Don River 250 miles south of Moscow - also yielded a carved piece of mammoth ivory that appears to be the head of a small figurine, dating to more than 40,000 years ago. "It would be the oldest piece of figurative art ever discovered," said Hoffecker.
     The finds from Kostenki illustrate the impact of the creative mind of modern humans as they spread out of Africa.
     Ancient musical instruments and figurative art discovered in caves in France and Germany date to before 30,000 years ago, he said. "Humans have the ability to imagine something in the brain that doesn't exist and then create it."

Edited from EurekAlert! (20 April 2011)

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