The Elements of Evolution (61-1) The Paleolithic

The Paleolithic

The problem is that there’s not a huge amount of evidence for anything in the Paleolithic. ~ Australian archeologist Rachel Wood

The Paleolithic (aka the Stone Age) is supposedly the first prehistoric period of human history, beginning with the development of the most primitive stone tools. The obvious omission is ignoring the employment of wood tools, which were doubtlessly used for many millennia before hominids managed flint. The problem is that wood tools were not preserved in the fossil record.

The first hominin to use stone tools was Au. afarensis, who was cutting with stone implements ~3.4 MYA – so the Stone Age rightfully predates the appearance of Homo.

The Paleolithic is a supposed to be cultural period, not a geological one. The Paleolithic lies within the Pleistocene geological period, which spans the Earth’s recent rounds of repeated glaciations. 11.7 TYA the Pleistocene gave way to the Holocene: the interglacial period that continued to the industrial age of humankind.

Unstable climate conditions favored the evolution of the roots of human flexibility in our ancestors. The narrative of human evolution stresses the importance of adaptability to changing environments rather than adaptation to any one environment. ~ Richard Potts

The Lower Paleolithic (aka Old Stone Age) dates from these first stone tools until 200,000 years ago, with the advent or more sophisticated stone tools, such as hand axes and cleavers. The Middle Paleolithic (Middle Stone Age) extends to ascent of early modern humans (aka Cro-Magnon). The Upper Paleolithic (New Stone Age) is associated with Cro-Magnon. Its close coincides with the end of the Pleistocene.

The idea that the origin of Homo is part of a climate-caused turnover pulse doesn’t really bear out when you carefully look at the evidence and compare it against other possible explanations. ~ Andrew Barr