see also pre-history of language, proto writing, philosophy

updates 2-2023 4-2-2023 Bear-clawed cavern discovered in Spain ‘opens new door on prehistory’ – Researchers hail ‘world-class discovery’ that suggests cave bears may have lived farther south than thought – by Sam Jones 1-2023 Humans and wild apes share common language – By Victoria Gill

Humans share elements of a common language with other apes, understanding many gestures that wild chimps and bonobos use to communicate. That is the conclusion of a video-based study in which volunteers translated ape gestures.It was carried out by researchers at St Andrews University. It suggests the last common ancestor we shared with chimps used similar gestures, and that these may have been a “starting point” for our language. The findings are published in the scientific journal PLOS Biology. … “So we already had a suspicion that this was a shared gesturing ability that might have been present in our last shared ancestor. “We’re quite confident now that our ancestors would have started off gesturing, and that this was co-opted into [our] language.”… 2-11-2022 The origins of human society are more complex than we thought – by Vivek V. Venkataraman

…”…A new book — The Dawn of Everything by late anthropologist David Graeber and archaeologist David Wengrow — challenges this narrative. Rather than being nomadic hunter-gatherers, they argue human societies during the Palaeolithic were, in fact, quite diverse. Today, increasing inequalitypolarized political systems and climate change threaten our very existence. We need a deeper historical perspective on what kind of political world shaped us, and what kinds are possible today…”… 1-11-2022 Fossils Upend Conventional Wisdom about Evolution of Human Bipedalism – For most of human evolution, multiple species with different ways of walking upright coexisted – By Jeremy DeSilva – 4-3-2022 Archeologists unearth evidence of ‘innovative’ Stone Age culture from 40,000 years ago in China – People of ancient culture demonstrated ‘complex technical system’ for transforming raw materials, scientists say. – In the latest study, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, scientists described new findings from the well-preserved archaeological site, including the earliest known ochre-processing feature in east Asia, a distinctive miniaturised stone assemblage with bladelet-like tools bearing traces of hafting, and a bone tool. by Vishwam Sankaran 3-2022 50,000-YEAR-OLD DNA REVEALS A CRITICAL SHIFT IN ANCIENT HUMAN HISTORY – We don’t know why people began “living locally” again. ELIZABETH SAWCHUK, JESSICA THOMPSON ,MARY PRENDERGAST

EVERY PERSON alive on the planet today is descended from people who lived as hunter-gatherers in Africa. The continent is the cradle of human origins and ingenuity, and with each new fossil and archaeological discovery, we learn more about our shared African past. Such research tends to focus on when our speciesHomo sapiensspread out to other landmasses 80,000-60,000 years ago. But what happened in Africa after that, and why don’t we know more about the people who remained?

TRACING OUR HUMAN PAST IN AFRICA — Beginning about 300,000 years ago, people in Africa who looked like us — the earliest anatomically modern humans — also started behaving in ways that seem very human. They made new kinds of stone tools and began transporting raw materials up to 250 miles (400 kilometers), likely through trade networks. By 140,000-120,000 years ago, people made clothing from animal skins and began to decorate themselves with pierced marine shell beads.

While early innovations appeared in a patchwork fashion, a more widespread shift happened around 50,000 years ago — around the same time that people started moving into places as distant as Australia. New types of stone and bone tools became common, and people began fashioning and exchanging ostrich eggshell beads. And while most rock art in Africa is undated and badly weathered, an increase in ochre pigment at archaeological sites hints at an explosion of art.

What caused this shift, known as the Later Stone Age transition, has been a longstanding archaeological mystery. Why would certain tools and behaviors, which up until that point had appeared in a piecemeal way across Africa, suddenly become widespread? Did it have something to do with changes in the number of people, or how they interacted? …”…  PDF 12/2021 Discovering when the first early modern humans left Africa  by Mina Weinstein-Evron & Israel Hershkovitz
“Previous evidence suggested that early modern humans left Africa 90,000 to 120,000 years ago, but new evidence has shown this event may have occurred much earlier. Professor Mina Weinstein-Evron (University of Haifa, Israel) and Professor Israel Hershkovitz (Tel Aviv University, Israel), together with their colleagues, have found a modern human fossil at Misliya cave in Israel, which dates to between 177,000 and 194,000 years ago. These might be the first modern humans outside of Africa. They have also discovered a collection of shells, a variety of stone tools, abundant remains of hunted animals, and evidence for repeatedly used hearths…”… 5/2021 Neanderthals carb loaded, helping grow their big brains By Ann Gibbons 3/2021 neanderthals-helped-create-early-human-art-researcher-says 03/2021 Evolutionary study suggests prehistoric human fossils ‘hiding in plain sight’ in Southeast Asia   by João Teixeira Kristofer M. Helgen

…”…Island Southeast Asia has one of the largest and most intriguing hominin fossil records in the world. But our new research suggests there is another prehistoric human species waiting to be discovered in this region: a group called Denisovans, which have so far only been found thousands of kilometres away in caves in Siberia and the Tibetan Plateau. Our study, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, reveals genetic evidence that modern humans (Homo sapiens) interbred with Denisovans in this region, despite the fact Denisovan fossils have never been found here…”…