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The Evolved ApprenticeHow Evolution Made Humans Unique$
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Kim Sterelny

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016797

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016797.001.0001

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Adapted Individuals, Adapted Environments

Adapted Individuals, Adapted Environments

(p.45) 3 Adapted Individuals, Adapted Environments
The Evolved Apprentice

Kim Sterelny

The MIT Press

This chapter exploits the apprentice learning model developed in chapter two to give an account of two very puzzling features of human evolutionary history: the appearance of behaviourally modern humans perhaps between 100,000-80,000 years ago (long after the evolution of our species) and the extinction of the Neanderthals, our sibling species. The chapter argues that both phenomena are to be explained by the conditions that allow critical cognitive capital to be retained or expanded. Behavioural modernity is a signature of expanding cognitive capital, as our ancestors crossed a social and demographic threshold. Neanderthal extinction was the result of ecological and demographic stresses so serious that they eroded the capacity to transmit core competences at a time when the external environment was becoming ever less forgiving.

Keywords:   Human behavioural modernity, Neanderthal extinction, symbolic behaviour, Upper Palaeolithic Revolution

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