Genetic v. Culural Evolution

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Transcript Genetic v. Culural Evolution

Mousterian tools Jonzac, France
The product of natural
The product of learning. the
transmission of acquired
behaviour characteristics
Innate not modified during
the organism’s life time
Learned during the life time
Passed on through
hereditary information
Passed on to kin (family),
social group, population,
within a generation and
between generations
Slow change
Fast change
© 2008 Paul Billiet ODWS
The relative importance of genetic
and cultural evolution for humans
Not limited to humans examples found
amongst birds and non-human primates
Genetic evolution determines features
such as basic anatomy e.g. maximum
cranial capacity that in turn will
determine “intelligence”
This sets the possible scope of cultural
© 2008 Paul Billiet ODWS
Hominid cultures are associated
with particular tools
Homo habilis Oldowan
Simple choppers, scrapers
and flakes
Homo erectus
Acheulian culture
Hand axes, cleaver and
pick added to the tool box
Homo neanderthalensis
Mousterian culture
Large flakes of uniform size
produced from a core;
these were then trimmed
to the desired tool
Homo sapiens Soultrian
Delicate blades formed,
knives, burins (for drilling);
other materials added
(bone, antler, and ivory).
Some tools now ceremonial
© 2008 Paul Billiet ODWS
Observed evolution of cultures
This implies genetic evolution had to
precede cultural evolution
Development of cultural innovation
sometimes occurs a long time after the
species evolves genetically
But when it happens it spreads quickly
© 2008 Paul Billiet ODWS
Homo sapiens evolved a large cranial
capacity and modern brain structure 150
000 years ago
Signs of symbolic thought processes in
sculpture, wall paintings and adornments
do not appear until 35 000 years ago
A fundamental change is thought to have
occurred about 60 to 70 000 years ago
But is this an artefact of preservation?
© 2008 Paul Billiet ODWS