Today I thought I'd tackle a topic that I've been learning more and more about lately. I have to teach a whole class on it next semester, so I've been gearing up to do that (and in all honesty, kind of freaking myself out!). I normally hit on this topic for about one lecture every year, and it's a personal favorite. And, what might that be? Well, the emergence of modern human culture of course!
The question then is: what changed at this time? Why do we suddenly see so much cultural activity? Was there a shift? Or was it just a gradual accumulation of technology over a long period of time that just became more visible because at ~60-50kya people were leaving Africa and we have a better archaeological record?
Attempts to explain this shift tend to fall into two general camps:
|The atlatl--a much more effective early tool :)|
Also, illegal in some states!
The jury is still out on what exactly happened with this cultural shift. It is still a really interesting thing to consider though, and I can't help but be drawn to the allure of there being a mutation that explains modern human cultural understanding, though the gradual accumulation of traits probably has a more firm (and simpler) explanation for what occurred.
So, tell me, what do you think? Which seems more likely?