How Humans Got Smart

Dear Wonderfest friend,

It’s one of the most compelling detective stories of all time: What key human skills best elevated us past our knuckle-walking forebears?  Was it tool use? … complex language? … insider trading?
One of the great advances in human cultural evolution was the invention of the stone-tipped spear. With such a weapon, our African ancestors could hunt masterfully.  More significant, perhaps, were the communication skills that such weaponry demanded. Teaching others how to fix stone points to wooden shafts “is so complex that it absolutely, positively requires language,” says John Shea, Professor of Paleoanthropology at Stony Brook University.
Stone-tipped throwing spears were unknown on Earth prior to 80,000 years ago. Or so we thought. Now, Yonatan Sahle and his colleagues have uncovered evidence of such weapons dating from some 280,000 years ago. Sahle et al have turned back a key clock on hominid cultural evolution by ~ 200 millennia!
      YonatanSahle-sm                    CalStateEastBayLogo
Wonderfest joins California State University, East Bay, in presenting Yonatan Sahle to discuss the surprising details and the larger implications of this remarkable discovery. Dr. Sahle’s talk, The African Origins of Human Intelligence, will be presented at CSU East Bay’s University Theater at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, February 19. I hope you will register at Eventbrite, and join us for this FREE event!
Wondrous regards,
Tucker Hiatt
Founding Executive Director
P.S. Wonderfest Board member Jacob Bien, statistics professor at Cornell, recently had a mischievous idea: let’s get Tucker to submit a video script to TED-Ed, the purely educational wing of the well-known “TED talks” organization. Sure enough, Jacob and Tucker succeeded, and so has their TED-Ed video. Entitled How Fast Are You Moving Right Now?, it has earned over 200,000 views! However, despite our best efforts, Wonderfest is mentioned only peripherally in the video metadata. We are still working on TED-Ed to toot the Wonderfest horn.