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Humans can see the world around them, imagine how it might be different, and translate those imaginings into reality ‥ or at least try to. This ability plays a significant role in our lineage’s evolutionary success. Meaning, imagination, and hope are as central to the human evolutionary story as are bones, genes, and ecologies. Paleoanthropological, archaeological, and biological data make it abundantly clear that the human lineage, over the last 2 million years, has undergone specific morphological changes alongside less easily measurable, but significant behavioral and cognitive shifts as it has forged and been shaped by a new niche, a highly distinctive way of being in the world – a human niche, a niche in which imagination is a key factor. This chapter offers a brief overview of this history and highlights how developmental processes of the human body and brain evolve as a system that is always in concert with, and mutually co-constitutive of, the linguistic, socially mediated and constructed structures, institutions, and beliefs that make up key aspects of the human niche.
A distinctive aspect of human behaviour is the ability to think symbolically. However, tracking the origin of this capability is controversial. From a Peircean perspective, to know if something truly is a symbol we need to know the cultural context in which it was created. Rather than initially asking if materials are symbols/symbolic, we offer that it is more salient to ask how they functioned as signs. Specifically we argue that using the Peircean distinction between qualisigns, sinsigns and legisigns provides support for this endeavour. The ‘flickering’ of early symbolic behaviour (the sporadic occurrences of objects with embedded social meanings in the Pleistocene archaeological record) can best be seen as sinsigns, whereas sites that show long-term presence of such materials are demonstrating the presence of legisigns: the codification of ideas. To illustrate this approach, we apply these ideas to three classes of artefacts, demonstrating how this system can address issues of relevance to palaeoanthropologists and archaeologists who often fetishize the symbolic as the one ability that makes us human.
Ethnoprimatology, the combining of primatological and anthropological practice and the viewing of humans and other primates as living in integrated and shared ecological and social spaces, has become an increasingly popular approach to primate studies in the twenty-first century. Offering an insight into the investigation and documentation of human-nonhuman primate relations in the Anthropocene, this book guides the reader through the preparation, design, implementation, and analysis of an ethnoprimatological research project, offering practical examples of the vast array of methods and techniques at chapter level. With contributions from the world's leading experts in the field, Ethnoprimatology critically analyses current primate conservation efforts, outlines their major research questions, theoretical bases and methods, and tackles the challenges and complexities involved in mixed-methods research. Documenting the spectrum of current research in the field, it is an ideal volume for students and researchers in ethnoprimatology, primatology, anthropology, and conservation biology.
Data from archaeology and paleoanthropology directly challenge the validity of the basic assumptions of the CLASH model. By not incorporating a “deep time” perspective, the hypothesis lacks the evolutionary baseline the authors seek to infer in validating the model.
Richerson et al. provide a much needed roadmap for assessing cultural group selection (CGS) theory and for applying it to understanding variation between contemporary human groups. However, the current proposal lacks connection to relevant evidence from the human evolutionary record and requires a better integration with contemporary evolutionary theory. The article also misapplies the Fst statistic.
This work studies the nitridation of Ta by laser irradiation by means of x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The study has been carried out under “in situ” conditions by controlling the nitrogen partial pressure, the presence of traces of oxygen, and the irradiance of the laser. It is found that a thin layer of Ta2O5 is directly obtained when irradiating in the presence of oxygen, while a Ta3N5 surface compound and some minor contributions of nonstoichiometric phases are formed in the presence of nitrogen. For O2:N2 mixtures at 0.1 Pa, preferential nitride formation occurs up to a ratio of 1:4, while Ta2O5 starts to be predominant for ratios above this value. The air stability of the tantalum nitride layer formed by laser irradiation and the surface topography of the irradiated metal are also studied. The possible factors determining this behavior are discussed.