Think back to when humans first got the capacity for cumulative cultural evolution—and by this I mean the ability for ideas to accumulate over generations, to get an increasingly complex tool starting from something simple. One generation adds a few things to it, the next generation adds a few more things, and the next generation, until it's so complex that no one in the first generation could have invented it. This was a really important line in human evolution, and we've begun to pursue this idea called the cultural brain hypothesis—this is the idea that the real driver in the expansion of human brains was this growing cumulative body of cultural information, so that what our brains increasingly got good at was the ability to acquire information, store, process and retransmit this non genetic body of information.It's an excellent article/talk.
Several of the other links are also quite good. Enjoy.
- From Edge, an interview with Joseph Henrich on how culture drove human evolution; and Ryan Phelan is on a mission to provide deep ecological enrichment through extinct species revival.
- Across the sea of grass: how Northern Europeans got to be 10% Northeast Asian.
- A review of Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame by Christopher Boehm.
- Tracing the world's ancestor: How many generations does it take before someone alive today is the ancestor of everyone on the planet?
- The largest genomic study finds the Khoe-San peoples are unique, special.
- What explains the extraordinarily fast rate of evolution in the human lineage over the past two million years? Paul Rincon investigates.
- Why selfishness still doesn’t pay: A recent finding that undermines conventional thinking on the evolution of cooperation doesn’t, after all, prevent altruistic behaviour from emerging.
- Here are ten educational facts about the Palaeolithic.
- Sedeer El-Showk on debating our ancestor’s sex life.
- Will humans eventually all look like Brazilians?
- The evolution of fairness: Can examining how inequality began in a hunter-gatherer society teach us how to fairly share the costs and consequences of how we use diminishing natural resources?