Tag Archives: cultural innovations

The evolution of cognitive mechanisms in response to cultural innovations

When humans and other animals make cultural innovations, they also change their environment, thereby imposing new selective pressures that can modify their biological traits. For example, there is evidence that dairy farming by humans favored alleles for adult lactose tolerance. … Continue reading

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Game-Changing Innovations: How Culture Can Change the Parameters of Its Own Evolution and Induce Abrupt Cultural Shifts

One of the most puzzling features of the prehistoric record of hominid stone tools is its apparent punctuation: it consists of abrupt bursts of dramatic change that separate long periods of largely unchanging technology. Within each such period, small punctuated … Continue reading

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Cultural Innovations and Demographic Change

Demography plays a large role in cultural evolution through its effects on the effective rate of innovation. If we assume that useful inventions are rare, then small isolated societies will have low rates of invention. In small populations, complex technology … Continue reading

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Role of Peers in Cultural Innovation and Cultural Transmission

Observations of the spontaneous play behaviors of a group of captive bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) revealed that each individual calf’s play became more complex with increasing age, suggesting that dolphin play may facilitate the ontogeny and maintenance of flexible problem … Continue reading

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Cave from East Africa shows early Cultural Innovations

An international, interdisciplinary group of scholars working along the East African coast have discovered a major cave site which records substantial activities of hunter-gatherers and later, Iron Age communities. Detailed environmental research has demonstrated that human occupations occur in a … Continue reading

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Partial connectivity increases cultural accumulation within groups

Complex technologies used in most human societies are beyond the inventive capacities of individuals. Instead, they result from a cumulative process in which innovations are gradually added to existing cultural traits across many generations. Recent work suggests that a population’s ability to develop complex … Continue reading

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The niche construction of cultural complexity

Interactions between innovations, population size, and the environment. Niche construction is a process through which organisms alter their environments and, in doing so, influence or change the selective pressures to which they are subject. ‘Cultural niche construction’ refers specifically to … Continue reading

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Evolution in Leaps: The punctuated Accumulation and Loss of Cultural Innovations

Archaeological accounts of cultural change reveal a fundamental conflict: Some suggest that change is gradual, accelerating over time, whereas others indicate that it is punctuated, with long periods of stasis interspersed by sudden gains or losses of multiple traits. Existing … Continue reading

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Culture, Genes, and the Human Revolution

Genetic evolution may have been driven by cultural innovations during the emergence of modern humans. State-of-the-art DNA sequencing is providing ever more detailed insights into the genomes of humans, extant apes, and even extinct hominins , offering unprecedented opportunities to … Continue reading

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