The evolution of the human mind

*  This presentation is translated from video1video2video3‘den bu yazının Türkçe’si dinlenebilir.

The key to understanding the modern humand mind may be hidden in 6-million-year period;

  • Australopithecus ramidus; 4-5 milion years ago
  • Australopithecus afarensis; 4-2.5 milion years ago, brain volume is 500cc, first one who use the stones as tools.
  • Homo habilis (handy man); 2.5 milion years ago, brain volume is 500-800cc. first one who make stone tools (such as for break the bones and take the loop inside)
  • Homo erectus (upright man); 1.8 milion years ago, brain volume is 750-1250cc, first one who leave from Africa, and first one who use fire. because he can stand in his feets, his hands become free, and use them more comprehensive, such as use of fire. Also because he stands and walks in his feets, he start to walk away from Africa and spread to the all around the world. :P
  • Homo neanderthalensis (because their bones were first found in Neandertal, so they are called that place); 200 thousands years ago, extinction about 30 tousands years ago, brain volume is 1200-1750cc. first one who bury the deads.
  • Homo sapiens sapiens (smart man); 400 thousands years ago, brain volume is 1200-1750cc.

NOTE; It is tought that after fire begun to be used, then they begun to cook their food, so their jaws shrunk. because eating the raw meat is hard and take too much effort, but cooked meat and vegetables can be softer and eaten easier, so there was no need to big and strong jaws to able to eat raw food anymore, and jaws shrunk. And so, shrinkage of the jaw gave more space to the brain, and brain volume is increase after began to use of fire. 

NOTE; After Brain Volume begun to grow, woman begun to gave birth earlier, becuause baby’s big head make births obstruct. Or, after they begun to stand up, position of the fetus may have provided an opportunity to grow the brain. Maybe both maybe either ?!?!

NOTE; One of the fundamental things that make us human is not to use tools, it is to make tools. Because it is already observed that some animals can be use tools, too. But only humans can made, create and combine tools.

NOTE; Neandertals were extincted by Humans. Although Neandertals were also as smart as Humans, they couldn’t survive as long as Humans. It is estimated that they lost (!) against humans because of lack of some comunication skills. They were not talking as same as Humans, they were singing (!), according to Steven Mithen (see his last book; Mithen, S. J. (2005) The Singing Neanderthals: the Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body). Also, another thought guess that Neandertals might have been a little mixed with Humans, rather than completly extinct !?!

Approximately 2 million years ago; the first cultural explosion begins with Homo habilis, and then approximately 60 thousands years ago; Homo erectus’ long walk brings the second cultural explosion. And finally, 10 thousands years ago; the last cultural period (with transition phase to manufacturer, such as agriculture, manufacturing, factory, industry) began and lasted until the present day.

Well, but in these periods, how did human cognitive’s developments and which direction ? Definition of human mind can answer this question.

Some of the opinions that define the human mind;

  • Human mind like a sponge; to take information is like a sponge absorbs water, and the process of reminding and remembering is like squeeze the sponge.
  • Human mind like a computer; learning and soving the problems are further than absorb the information as a sponge. Information must be combined and compared as in computers. Brain is like a hardware and mind is like a software.
  • Human mind like a Swedish army knife; Its each part specialize for different work. Modular mind !
  • Human mind like an architecture; A structure consists of many halls and chambers, and link them all with corridors.

Types of intelligence;

  • General intelligence; restricted and useless in modern human mind, but useful in paleolithic human mind for general learning and making desicions. frequently make mistakes, and can not learn complicated behaviours
  • Technical intelligence; it is about the ability to make tools. Such as; undestanding the breaking dynamics for making stone tools. Homo Habilis might have.
  • Social intelligence; observed in groups. regulate the social relations !
  • Natural history intelligence; The intelligence that records the natural cycles, such as; migration of birds, observing animals (hunting), seasonal changes, weather, observation of the sky (sunrise, sunset, moon, stars), the growth of plants (for agriculture)…etc
  • Linguistic intelligence; intelligence that provide communication.

Modern human have all these intelligence, and can use them simultaneously. But Paleolithic human could not use more than one intelligence at the same time.

NOTE; the most important term is Mesolithic period. Human begun to settle the places and start to agriculture. The first place they started to settle was Göbekli tepe (Türkiye, Urfa, Karacadağ). Because civilization is based on grain (grain {these are wheat, rice, corn} are very filling for appetite and can be stored long time. so human didn’t waste too long time for finding or producing the food after the grain agriculture, and gain lots of leisure time. And civilization is established in this leisure time :P), and Urfa, karacadağ was the motherland of wheat, and wheat spreaded all over the world from there, with civilization.

In short, human did not get smarter suddenly. Human Mind is developed (and still being developed) in the form of a process and evolution. ;)

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