Stone Age Humans Found Wisdom in Crowds: Study

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2009 3:11 PM CDT
Three molded skulls from the New Stone Age.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The jump in human ingenuity during the Stone Age could have resulted not from a biological change but from closer, more populous communities, NPR reports. “Anything that we teach is going to be susceptible to loss, or to decay,” said the British scientist who cooked up the theory. “So if there are more people in the population, then more complex skills can be maintained in that population without that decay.”

Scientists from University College London have developed mathematical models that tie population density to archeological findings. Another consideration would be the diversity of groups within larger populations. “You can increase population size,” a watcher said, but “you have to subdivide it into groups that can hold on to different innovations, in a sense be different experiments.” The scientists stress that their concept of intelligence in numbers does not preclude the possibility of a biological cause. (Read more Stone Age stories.)