The Evolutionary Foundations of Human Uniqueness: Recovering Patterns of Cognition Cumulative Culture and Cooperation The Evolutionary Foundations of Human Uniqueness: Recovering Patterns of Cognition, Cumulative Culture and Cooperation Abstract: The Institute of Human Origins will investigate the proposition that the evolution of human uniqueness is the outcome of the interplay among our complex cognition, our reliance on cumulative culture, and our exceptional capacity for cooperation. It is a commonplace belief in anthropology that humans alone have culture, and this has allowed us to transcend the biological constraints that apply to all other species. The psychological capacities that give rise to culture, and the proclivities that make humans so cooperative, must, however, have been constructed by evolutionary processes operating across a skein of temporally remote ancestors and relatives, whose fossil remains, cultural artifacts, and environmental contexts are the primary sources of data about the past. Our task is to investigate the key adaptations and specific time periods and environments of human origins, and, drawing on the expertise and methods of researchers from a broad range of earth, life and social science disciplinesfrom paleoanthropology to cognitive psychologyexplain from a transdisciplinary perspective where, when and how these unique human capacities emerged over deep time. A central and novel goal of our proposal is to test predictions from recently generated theoretical propositions about human uniqueness with the empirical evidence on the timing of appearance and patterns of association of key human adaptations recovered from field and laboratory research. We propose an integrated suite of 13 projects, led by IHO researchers and>50 collaborators, that range from investigations of unexpectedly ancient stone-tool cut-marked bone in the fossil record to studies of how complex technology is transmitted in contemporary societies. These projects will contribute to a general synthetic explanation, now on the horizon, of how humans evolved. We will disseminate results through peer-reviewed scientific publications, a project web site, and a public symposium at the end of the grant term.
|Effective start/end date||9/1/14 → 8/31/17|
- John Templeton Foundation: $4,934,107.00
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