The manipulative complexity of Lower Paleolithic stone toolmaking.

PLoS ONE. 2010;5(11):e13718 DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0013718

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: PLoS ONE

ISSN: 1932-6203 (Online)

Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

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AUTHORS

Aldo Faisal
Dietrich Stout
Jan Apel
Bruce Bradley

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

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Editorial Board

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Time From Submission to Publication: 24 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

Early stone tools provide direct evidence of human cognitive and behavioral evolution that is otherwise unavailable. Proper interpretation of these data requires a robust interpretive framework linking archaeological evidence to specific behavioral and cognitive actions.Here we employ a data glove to record manual joint angles in a modern experimental toolmaker (the 4(th) author) replicating ancient tool forms in order to characterize and compare the manipulative complexity of two major Lower Paleolithic technologies (Oldowan and Acheulean). To this end we used a principled and general measure of behavioral complexity based on the statistics of joint movements.This allowed us to confirm that previously observed differences in brain activation associated with Oldowan versus Acheulean technologies reflect higher-level behavior organization rather than lower-level differences in manipulative complexity. This conclusion is consistent with a scenario in which the earliest stages of human technological evolution depended on novel perceptual-motor capacities (such as the control of joint stiffness) whereas later developments increasingly relied on enhanced mechanisms for cognitive control. This further suggests possible links between toolmaking and language evolution.