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The Equation of Stone Tools and Human Intelligence Evolution

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National Institutes of Health
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  1. Stone tool use development is one of the clearest indicators for demonstrating our evolutionary divergence from other species
  2. An appropriate framework for understanding tool development inferences
  3. Stone tools automatically imply a transaction
  4. The clear environmental influence on stone tool
  5. Stone tool development represents manifestation of human intelligence and its evolutionary course

Stone tools are often the glorified paradigm for anthropological assumptions about human intelligence evolution. Their concrete and quantifiable linkages to Paleolithic realities are what make stone tools such a pivotal addition to anthropology's understanding of evolution. The shifts in the archeological records that are characterized by stone tools represent how human intelligence evolution is a function of a congruence of ecological factors. Although some anthropologists take a very specific, pure, and neurological approach to understanding stone tool evolution, this parochial perspective can limit the insight available from the broader context of stone tool and intellectual progression. Human intelligence evolution is a multidimensional process that reaches far beyond the scope of the individual, and the archeological record, through its ability to encompass all dynamics of evolutionary ecology, provides an effective framework for analyzing developments in human intelligence.

[...] The specifics of stone tools are not necessary to grasp the greater implications of their influence on human intelligence evolution. Instead, a perspective that views the more comprehensive equation of stone tool development with respect to other concurring conditions and processes will produce more effective anthropological inferences. Stone tools automatically imply a transaction between their creator and their environment, suggesting a strong relationship between tool use and environmental conditions. Mithen validates that ?specialized cognitive processes [evolved for the] interaction with the natural world,? thus emphasizing the importance of an ecologically-centered interpretation of stone tool development (99). [...]


[...] The beginnings of stone tools exhibited through the Oldowan tradition showed the emergence of a material and mental evolution of hominid functional intelligence. An appropriate framework for understanding tool development inferences goes beyond the artifact itself, and places tool-making in proportional relation to the evolution of human intelligence. It is important not to get caught up in the specifics of tool variation, but rather what these tools can demonstrate about the dynamic relationship between its creator and their environment. Therefore, it is the structure of the process, not the structure of the artifact, which permits insight towards intellectual evolution. [...]

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