Tool study shows language began over two million years ago

Tool study shows language began over two million years ago
Tool study shows language began over two million years ago

The most primitive form of language developed by the earliest of human ancestors was coincident with the development of stone cutting tools for eviscerating animals for food. The Oldowan culture in Africa was the first group of human ancestors to make tools. The technology to make the tools and the methods needed to slaughter game had to be taught through language according to a report by researchers from University of California at Berkeley and colleagues from Britain that was published in the journal Nature Communications.

The researchers used physical evidence and computer analysis to establish a correlation between the first known advent of any primitive form of language in any human ancestor and the making of tools to slaughter animals. The complexity of the tool development process made a simplistic form of language a necessity. The technology spread across Africa so quickly that teaching in the form of language had to be a component of the human caused evolution of language.

The Oldowan culture did not demonstrate the complexity of linguistic skills that true humans do. However, the technology this culture developed made some form of language mandatory. The discovery means that human language began about 2.5 million years ago. Stone flakes were the only cutting tools made by human ancestors for 700,000 years.

The researchers tested their theory using college students. One member of each group of ten college students was trained to knap stone. The different groups used imitation, hand signs, and primitive language that only included a few sounds and gestures to communicate the craft to the next person in the group. The most proficient and efficient stone knapping came from the groups that used a simple language to teach the skill to trainees.


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