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Thread: THE THIRD CHIMPANZEE

  1. #1 THE THIRD CHIMPANZEE 
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    Hi, after reading the replies in my previous thread one area I would like to learn a bit more about concerns the evolution of intelligent humans. I would like to discover timelines, theories regarding the development of intelligence in humans, e.t.c.

    Would I find the answers to my questions in The Third Chimpanzee by Diamond?
    Any recomendations?

    BARCUD


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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Jared Diamond's book is a good and entertaining read which amongst other things touches upon some aspects of human intelligence - however, whether it really addresses the subject of timelines, development theories and human intelligence in full is another matter

    i think the book is more about the various aspects that make us human, such bipedalism, language, and other traits that still play a role in modern human society


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  4. #3  
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    Hi, I'm more interested in what has become known as 'the great leap forward'. It kind of goes back to my fish to jet pilot questions in my other thread.

    Any ideas for reading material?

    BARCUD
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    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    I suggest The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    I suggest getting the idea of a great leap forward out of your head.

    That will be the first step towards understanding human evolution and evolution in particular.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    i'm not sure if barcud's description of the great leap is the same as ours

    there is the mystery of anatomically modern humans coming into being without a change in their tool box about 100,000 years or more ago, followed around 40,000-50,000 years ago by the start of a cultural innovation without any obvious changes in anatomy

    some people refer to the latter event as the great leap, but there is still plenty of debate as to what exactly lies at the base of it
    my guess is that we see is an exponential growth of cultural accumulation, which at first doesn't seem to be doing very much at all and then after the take-off phase progresses in leaps and bounds
    but there are others who suspect that around that time something changed in the wiring of the human brain, or that this was the point where proper language capability evolved

    not sure if there's one single book on the subject though - "the ancestor's tale" contains a lot more than just this topic, so you'll have to find out where it comes up
    the good thing is that events are described in reverse chronology, so it should be fairly close to the start
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    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    I agree with Spuriousmonkey - the idea of a 'great leap forward' is just something that will confuse any clear thoughts you need on the issue.

    The Third Chimpanzee (and also try Cherfas and Gribbins' The First Chimpanzee, for an alternative take) is a good book, but Bunbury's recommendation of The Ancestor's Tale is also a good one.

    Aside (to marnix et al):

    I appreciate that the modern 'great leap forward' idea of anatomically modern humans showing, 'suddenly', a great cultural and social flowering around 40,000-50,000 years BP is quite frequnetly discussed, but I've never yet seen a discussion of this notion in combination with the palaentological and archaeological records that show humans (the modern ones) in Australia from 60,000 years BP. Any ideas on this apparent anomaly?
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    i think the time period 40,000-50,000 is usually mentioned because from then on the fossil record becomes somewhat richer
    i'm not aware that there's much fossil evidence linking what happened between H.sapiens around 90,000 in the middle east and australia around 60,000

    the fact that at least a rudimentary sea-going boat-making capability is required to reach australia makes me favour the theory that modern intellectual capabilities were present near the inception of the modern anatomy and that it took initially a long time to build up a decent cultural baggage

    in that respect i think Jared Diamond is correct in emphasising the importance of the survival of a grandparent generation for maintaining a long-term group memory - this would help in accelerating the accumulation of culture
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  10. #9  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR
    - this would help in accelerating the accumulation of culture

    the extension of childhood also helps.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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  11. #10  
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    Forget the 'great leap forward'? My understanding of this is, taking into account the first time I heard this was only this week so I can't argue for or against it, to get to the intellectual level we are at today, there appears to have been a leap in our ancestors intelligence and consequently manipulative capabilities. An increase in intelligence enabled our early ancestors to exploit and manipulate their environment in ways not witnessed before. And that carries on today.

    Books - I have read Darwin in the past, I remember Evolution by Zimmer being interesting. I've also read about bio-diversity with Wilson. I did pick a couple of books up today, Seven Million Years by Douglas Palmer, and What Makes Biology Unique, Mayr, which looks to have a couple of interesting chapters. Oh and National Geographic has a good article on the Neandethals this month.

    Thanks for all your input. Why forget the 'great leap forward'?

    BARCUD
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  12. #11  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BARCUD
    Why forget the 'great leap forward'?

    BARCUD
    maybe not exactly forget about, it's an interesting conundrum in its own right, but remember that it's quite possible that what we call the great leap may only appear that way from our current state of knowledge - we just don't have enough evidence to be sure
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  13. #12  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    The fossil record doesn't show a great leap forward. In fact all the 'intermediates' and side branches show an intermediate brain size indicating an intermediate intelligence level.

    And of course the distribution over time suggests an increase.

    That's called an expected series of modest transitions. Not a leap from small brained ape to gigantic brained Homo sapiens.

    The real novelty in human evolution will probably turn out to be the introduction of puberty.

    No ape shares the human growth chart. And maybe if we get a better fossil record we can conclusively state that neither do the intermediates.

    Fixing on intelligence is human arrogance and what is even worse: it introduces a bias to the analysis of the data.

    And since there are many more striking differences between the other living apes and humans it is a silly exercise to assume that intelligence makes us special.

    You see, starting with a bias creates a cultural context sensitive science. The kind that leads to fuckups that need to rectified later on.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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