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  Early stone tools and cultural transmission: Resetting the Null hypothesis

Tennie, C., Premo, L. S., Braun, D. R., & McPherron, S. P. (2017). Early stone tools and cultural transmission: Resetting the Null hypothesis. Current Anthropology, 58(5), 652-654. doi:10.1086/693846.

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 Creators:
Tennie, Claudio, Author
Premo, Lukas S.1, Author                 
Braun, David R.1, Author           
McPherron, Shannon P.1, Author                 
Affiliations:
1Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society, ou_1497673              

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 Abstract: We have learned much about tool use in nonhumans since the discovery of Oldowan stone tools. Despite the ongoing debate over whether tool use in other animals requires cultural transmission, it seems clear that, today, humans show a quantitative, if not qualitative, difference in our ability to transmit information socially through cultural transmission. This ability makes cumulative culture possible. Although comparative studies provide relevant insights, we must look to the Paleolithic archaeological record to address when, where, and ultimately why this shift to high-fidelity social learning occurred. Yet here the frequent assumption that even the earliest stone tools serve as evidence of high-fidelity cultural transmission hinders investigation more than it helps. We pragmatically suggest resetting the null hypothesis for the processes underlying early stone tool production. The null hypothesis that we prefer is that early stone tools might have been so-called latent solutions rather than cultural material that derived from—and depended upon—modern human-like high-fidelity cultural transmission. This simple shift in perspective prioritizes the systematic investigation of more parsimonious potential explanations and forces us to demonstrate, rather than presume, that stone tools could not have existed without high-fidelity cultural transmission.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2017-08-252017-10
 Publication Status: Issued
 Pages: 21
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1086/693846
 Degree: -

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Title: Current Anthropology
  Other : Curr. Anthropol.
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: New York : University of Chicago Press
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 58 (5) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 652 - 654 Identifier: ISSN: 0011-3204
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/110975500577345