Skip to comments.Science Journal: Caveman Crooners May Have Aided Early Human Life
Posted on 04/01/2006 3:09:41 PM PST by blam
Science Journal: Caveman crooners may have aided early human life
Friday, March 31, 2006
By Sharon Begley, The Wall Street Journal
In Steven Mithen's imagination, the small band of Neanderthals gathered 50,000 years ago around the caves of Le Moustier, in what is now the Dordogne region of France, were butchering carcasses, scraping skins, shaping ax heads -- and singing.
One of the fur-clad men started it, a rhythmic sound with rising and falling pitch, and others picked it up, indicating their willingness to cooperate both in the moment and in the future, when the group would have to hunt or fend off predators. The music promoted "a sense of we-ness, of being together in the same situation facing the same problems," suggests Prof. Mithen, an archaeologist at England's Reading University.
Music, he says, creates "a social rather than a merely individual identity." And that may solve a longstanding mystery.
Music gives biologists fits. Its ubiquity in human cultures, and strong evidence that the brain comes preloaded with musical circuits, suggest that music is as much a product of human evolution as, say, thumbs. But that raises the question of what music is for.
Back in 1871, Darwin speculated that human music, like bird songs, attracts mates. Or, as he put it, prelinguistic human ancestors tried "to charm each other with musical notes and rhythm."
Some scientists today share that view. "Music was shaped by sexual selection to function mostly as a courtship display," Geoffrey Miller, of the University of New Mexico, argued in a 2001 paper.
But like Darwin, he bases that conclusion on the belief that music has "no identifiable survival benefits." If a trait doesn't help creatures survive, then it can persist generation after generation only if it helps them reproduce.
Studies in neuroscience and anthropology, however...
(Excerpt) Read more at post-gazette.com ...
Then the lawyers showed up.
Danged long haired scuzzy neander-teens out caterwauling and banging on rocks driving their parents up the cave walls. Does it never end?
"Someone left the cake out in the rain,
I don't think I could take it,
`cause it took so long to bake it,
And I'll never have that recipe again,
It all went downhill from there.
And these guys are still speculating to this day. No facts. No evidence. Just speculation.
If the Neanderthals sang, I'm betting it was rap.
And they know this how?
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A Rumination on the Invention of Soup...the glory of soup was yet to be. Some say its inventor was one of the Homo sapiens gang, sometime after 80,000 BCE--either the Neanderthals...or the Cro-Magnons who ultimately did those poor Neanderthals in. Others argue for a later generation--Neolithic man around 10,000 BCE.
by Patricia Solley
I kind of like the Neanderthal theory. It was a particularly tough and dangerous world back then. These hunter-gatherers were stuck in the last blast of the Wurm glaciation that killed off so much of their food and so many species. It was every man for himself as they ran fearfully from--and ran hungrily after--woolly mammoths, sabre-tooth tigers, wolves, and other hominids. And yet elderly Neanderthal skeletons have been found in France with teeth worn down below gum level--and deeply crippled skeletons have been found too. Implication: They could only have been kept alive through the compassion of their communities and the brilliance of some nouvelle cuisine chef who could find food alternatives to incredibly indigestible plants, meat tougher than my old aunt's shoes, and all of it cold. I try to put myself under the toque of that Stone Age Julia Child. I imagine him or her using bark to dip and carry water...putting food bits in it and noticing them soften or swell...marking how plants and berries, meat and marrow chunks would infuse the water with color and flavor. I imagine him or her getting the idea of warm broth from the 98.6 degree Fahrenheit mother's milk that kept little Neanderthal babies happy.
That's when it hits me: Soup! It's an unbelievable achievement--a matter of thought overreaching what was technologically possible at the time. I think of anthropologist Sally McBrearty's recent remark: "The earliest Homo sapiens probably had the cognitive capability to invent Sputnik...but didn't yet have the history of invention or a need for those things." But soup? Yes, he needed soup. He needed soup, so he imagined soup. He imagined soup, so he brought it into being, despite his lack of pots to cook it in.The Neandertal EnigmaFrayer's own reading of the record reveals a number of overlooked traits that clearly and specifically link the Neandertals to the Cro-Magnons. One such trait is the shape of the opening of the nerve canal in the lower jaw, a spot where dentists often give a pain-blocking injection. In many Neandertal, the upper portion of the opening is covered by a broad bony ridge, a curious feature also carried by a significant number of Cro-Magnons. But none of the alleged 'ancestors of us all' fossils from Africa have it, and it is extremely rare in modern people outside Europe." [pp 126-127]
by James Shreeve
Either that, or Give Peace a Chance, Kumbaya, or Imagine.
What went on in the Neanderthal kitchen is a matter for conjecture, but one sensible suggestion is that he boiled animals in their skins. The hide of a flayed animal would be suspended on forked sticks, filled with meat and water, and a fire lighted beneath it. After some time the water would boil, the meat would be cooked, and the broth could then be eaten by invalids. The skin would not catch fire with the heat because it would be cooked by the water. The experiment of boiling water in a bag made of fairly thick paper demonstrates that this kind of cooking is a practical idea. There can be no doubt that cooking in a skin took place in many parts of the world, and it was still being done in Ireland as late as the sixteenth century. ...Until recently, Icelanders used to steam their bread in the boiling water of the hot springs by simply wrapping it in some waterproof substance and then dangling it in the hot spring at the end of a rope....
Another way in which Neanderthal extended his list of recipes was by using hot stones. The hot-stone technique meant the invention of frying. In addition, stones, heated to great heat on a campfire, could be transferred to any receptacle filled with water. A sufficiency of hot stones would induce the water to boil. [While] anthropologists have doubted the feasibility of primitive man's being able to pick the hot stones out of the fire...two stout poles, tied together with a thong, provide a pair of tongs with which even the hottest objects can be removed from a fire. This was the technique used by gun founders in Southeast Asia to remove pieces of slag from a furnace...." (Beaufort Books, 1981)
An Exaltation of Soups:
The Soul-Satisfying Story of Soup,
As Told in More Than 100 Recipes
by Patricia Solley
I dunno about men singing in caves but women sing to their babies all the time. Even a mother cat will croon when she's rounding up her kittens.
And children all over the world sing while they're playing, especially girls.
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