by Stephanie Boyd
Evolutionary theory is something which, irony aside, has been evolving itself over the decades, despite being controversial in that it remains at odds with religious and creationist theory (and there being a much-debated balance over which gets taught ahead of the other in schools). This side of the argument aside, it’s emerged this week that a fairly crucial strand in evolutionary theory has been expanded to a jaw-dropping extent – meaning that much of what we initially understood now looks far grander in a whole different light.
The element which has undergone re-evaluation is that of our role in millennia gone by as crafters of tools. It’s been widely believed by those studying human evolution that a single group of ancient humans were responsible for crafting and using the first tools and weapons in existence – however, research of various bones and genes from Africa in recent times appears to show that there were in fact several different groups, spread across the continent, responsible for the creation and forging of their own tools and elements. It’s a finding which could potentially lead us to rethink our genesis – and quite how complex evolutionary history actually is.
Researchers bound together via Oxford University, UK, have found that we appear to have evolved from a number of interconnecting groups across Africa – those of which first crafted tools – as opposed to one singular movement. This means that the people we have reportedly come from resided in varying climates and backgrounds when the planet was much younger – and that, amazingly, multiple groups were evolving to the point of tool creation at the exact same time before converging. It’s incredible to consider.
Eleanor Scerri is the leading author of a paper recently published which goes into more than a little more detail. “Many had assumed that early human ancestors originated as a single, relatively large ancestral population, and exchanged genes and technologies like stone tools in a more or less random fashion – however, stone tools and other artefacts – usually referred to as material culture – have remarkably clustered distributions in space and through time.
“While there is a continental-wide trend towards more sophisticated material culture, this ‘modernization’ clearly doesn’t originate in one region or occur at one time period.”
It’s fascinating to think that fossils and bones could hold so much in the way of pieces towards the bigger picture – will we ever know the full truth of our ancient past?
Learn more: ▶ Discovery In China Suggest Earlier Date For Humans’ Spread From Africa