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Late Pleistocene Demography and the Appearance of Modern Human Behavior

Powell, A; Shennan, S; Thomas, MG; (2009) Late Pleistocene Demography and the Appearance of Modern Human Behavior. Science , 324 (5932) 1298 - 1301. 10.1126/science.1170165. Green open access

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Abstract

The origins of modern human behavior are marked by increased symbolic and technological complexity in the archaeological record. In western Eurasia this transition, the Upper Paleolithic, occurred about 45,000 years ago, but many of its features appear transiently in southern Africa about 45,000 years earlier. We show that demography is a major determinant in the maintenance of cultural complexity and that variation in regional subpopulation density and/or migratory activity results in spatial structuring of cultural skill accumulation. Genetic estimates of regional population size over time show that densities in early Upper Paleolithic Europe were similar to those in sub-Saharan Africa when modern behavior first appeared. Demographic factors can thus explain geographic variation in the timing of the first appearance of modern behavior without invoking increased cognitive capacity.

Type: Article
Title: Late Pleistocene Demography and the Appearance of Modern Human Behavior
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1126/science.1170165
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1170165
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Middle Stone-Age, South-Africa, Emergence, Language, Perspective, Revolution, Evolution, Cognition, Ethiopia, Origins
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/168654
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