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Chapter 12- Oldowan Toolmakers and the Origin of Human Life History.docx

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Department
Biology
Course
BIOLOGY 1M03
Professor
Ben Evans
Semester
Fall

Description
Chapter 12: Oldowan Toolmakers and the Origin of Human Life History The Oldowan Toolmakers - the earliest identifiable stone tools are from about 2.5 mya - at sites about 2.3 mya, researchers found an extensive array of stone artifacts, including flakes (small, sharp chips), cores, hammer stones, and debris from manufacturing - these artifacts, collectively are called Oldowan tool industry, are very simple o round stones that have been chipped o artifacts are quite variable in shape and size o made from different raw materials o tool industries are collections of tools that are found in a particular region and time - we do not know which hominin species were responsible for making tools - it is also possible that earliest stone tools were made by species that do not appear until later in the fossil record - stone tools are more durable than bones, so the archaeological record is usually more complete than the fossil record Complex Foraging Shapes Human Life Story - anthropologists divide foods acquired by forages into three types according to the amount of knowledge and skill required to obtain them o these are, in order of increasing difficulty of acquisition, collected food, extracted foods, and hunted foods 1. collected foods can be simply collected from the environment and eaten 2. extracted foods come from things that don’t move but are protected in some way  these things must be processed before food can be eaten 3. hunted foods come from things that run away, and thus must be caught or trapped  may also need to be extracted or processed before consumption Chimp Humans Collected 96% 10% Extracted 4% 30% Hunted 2% 60% - humans depend on hard-to-learn skills to acquire food - contemporary foraging peoples depend on extracted and hunted foods to a much greater extent than chimpanzees do - unlike other predators, humans must learn a very diverse set of hunting skills - most large mammalian predators use one of two methods: wait in ambush, or combine a stealthy approach with fast pursuit - efficient extraction of resources requires considerable skill 1 - Blurton and Jones (both from UCLA) discovered digging up deeply buried tubers from rock soil as a complex mining operation involving much clever engineering of braces and levers - reliance on hunting and extractive foraging favors food sharing and division of labour in contemporary foraging groups - usually, men take primary responsibility for hunting large game, and women take primary responsibility for extractive foraging - division of labour makes sense on two grounds: 1. hard-to-learn techniques reward specialization  takes a long time to be good hunter, and it takes a long time to learn how to dig tubers 2. because child care is more compatible with gathering than with hunting, and lactation commits women to child care for a substantial portion of their adult lives, it makes sense that men specialize in hunting - reliance on meat eating favours evolution of food sharing o if several hunters share catch, chance of starvation is much lower - food sharing and division of labour lead to extensive flows of food between people of different ages and sexes - selection may have favoured larger brains, a prolonged juvenile period, and a longer life span because these traits make it easier to learn complex foraging methods - complex, learned foraging techniques allow humans to acquire highly valuable or otherwise inaccessible food resources - meat is a much better source of nutrients that animals need than is the usual primate fare of leaves and ripe fruit o meat is high in protein, lipids, and is rich in energy - humans were able to access a large supply of food by learning how to use tools to dig them up - if learning is valuable, natural selection will favour adaptations that make a better learner o favour larger brains and greater intelligence o reliance on complex learned foraging skills would also favour the evolution of a prolonged juvenile period  this will generate longer life span  longer life span is costly, but added time allows learning that produces more capable adults - food sharing and vision of labour lead to reduced competition between males and reduced sexual dimorphism o when males invest in offspring, there is less male-male competition and reduced sexual dimorphism Evidence for Complex Foraging by Oldowan Toolmakers 2 - Oldowan toolmakers are plausible candidates for species that links early apelike hominins to later hominins, who have more humanlike life history patterns - contemporary foragers rely on complex, hard-to-learn foraging techniques to a much greater extent than other primates do, and this shift can explain evolution of main features of human life history - contemporary experiments suggest that Oldowan tools could be used for a variety of tasks, including the butchery of large animals o Schick and Toth found that stone flakes struck from cobble cores can be used for many tasks, including butchering large animals like elephants o cores can be used for a more limited number of jobs, such as chopping down a tree to making a stick or spear - wear patterns on bone tools from South Africa suggest that they were used to excavate termite mounds o extractive foraging (commonly done with wooden sticks) is likely to leave traces in archaeological record o evidence suggests that hominins from this period were extractive foragers o found number of broken bones that had wear patterns suggesting that they had been used as tools o analysis shows that the fossil tools were used for digging in termite mounds Archaeological Evidence for Meat Eating - at several archaeological sites in East Africa, Oldowan tools have been found along with dense concentrations of animal bones - bones found belong to a wide range of animal species (pigs, horses, elephants, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, and a variety of carni
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