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Complex thought in humans pushed back 30,000 years

The discovery of 71,000-year-old stone tools found in South Africa suggest that complex thought in humans occurred much earlier than previously thought.

One potential sign of complex thought would be an elaborately produced artifact that would have required capabilities such as language to pass along the technique to future generations.

Some have argued that advanced technologies in Africa frequently appeared and disappeared over time. Now, however, tiny stone blades discovered on the south coast of South Africa and dating back about 71,000 years suggest advanced stoneworking techniques persisted for vast spans of history instead of flickering in and out of use.

“Every time we excavate a new site in coastal South Africa with advanced field techniques, we discover new and surprising results that push back in time the evidence for uniquely human behaviors,” Marean said.

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Story: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience | Photo: Simen Oestmo

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