Early Lunch

From: Steve Drew (srdrew_1@hotmail.com)
Date: Sun Apr 14 2002 - 12:19:41 BST

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    Date: Sun, 14 Apr 2002 12:19:41 +0100
    Subject: Early Lunch
    From: Steve Drew <srdrew_1@hotmail.com>
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    Has any one read the article in this weeks New Scientist (13/4/02, Vol 174,
    No 2338)?

    For those that haven't Richard Coss thinks our transition from ape to human
    was kick started not only by leaving the trees, but also because rather than
    being the hunter, 5 million years ago we were the hunted. He argues that our
    hunting behaviour, social systems all result from the need to devise
    defences against creatures the like of which aren't around today.

    I find the idea quite reasonable as it provides an answer why did we begin
    tool using. Whacking something with a stick or rock that is bigger than you
    has a better success rate than shaking a fist at it. As we become more adept
    with bigger and better sticks we learnt to fight back which is a good
    precursor to learning hunting. If you can clobber a sabretooth, a small deer
    (say) becomes a feasible target.

    Basically it was an evolutionary arms race with us trying to catch up.

    He also argues for certain predispositions of an evolutionary psychology
    nature. That is instincts that have become hardwired. In one test he
    constructed a virtual model of some savannah and showed it to some
    pre-school kids. He introduced a lion to the scene and asked the kids to
    pick the safest spot from 3 choices: In a crevice, a thorn bush or on top of
    a boulder. Only 1 in six chose the boulder which was the only safe spot. Not
    definitive evidence I know, but the article does contain other interesting
    ideas and theories.

    As has already been noted, in relation to language, he argues that language
    evolved from cries of alarm to a proto language exhibited by some apes today
    that distinguishes between specific threats through to language proper.

    Interesting piece. It also notes that anthropologists are not at all keen on



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