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Cambridge University Science Magazine
Although evidence from fossils and DNA mutation rates has shown that members of the Homo sapiens sapiens species resembled contemporary humans in physique 200,000 years ago, modern  behaviour and the use of corresponding cognitive structures only came about 100,000 years after that. In passing on and in learning the knowledge of spearhead crafting across generations, humans increasingly relied on social interaction, symbolism, and abstract thinking.

These findings were made by the scientists in Hollow Rock Shelter, South Africa. They suggest that acquiring this new spearhead technology took a long time, and called upon more complex cognitive functions than was the practice for humans at the time [1]. Over generations, this gave rise to the brain developing new abilities; on top of social life, working memory was also enhanced. Further research is being conducted in the same cave where the excavations were carried out [2].

Written by Ayesha Sengupta


  1. Lithic technology and behavioural modernity: New results from the Still Bay site, Hollow Rock Shelter, Western Cape Province, South Africa. 2001. Hogberg, A. & Larsson, L. Journal of Human Evolution 61:133-155