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Childhood and advances in human tool use

  • Mark Nielsen (a1)

Human life history incorporates childhood, a lengthy post-weaning period of dependency. This species-specific period provides an opportunity for extensive learning and for sophisticated cultural behaviors to develop, including crucial tool use skills. Although I agree that no individual cognitive trait singularly differentiates humans from other animals, I suggest here that without childhood, the traits that are key to human tool use would not emerge.

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Z. Hochberg & K. Albertsson-Wikland (2008) Evo-devo of infantile and childhood growth. Pediatric Research 64:27.

J. L. Locke & B. Bogin (2006) Language and life history: A new perspective on the development and evolution of human language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29:259325.

R. Macchiarelli , L. Bondioli , A. Debénath , A. Mazurier , J.-F. Tournepiche , W. Birch & M. C. Dean (2006) How Neanderthal molar teeth grew. Nature 444:748–51.

M. Nielsen & K. Tomaselli (2010) Over-imitation in Kalahari Bushman children and the origins of human cultural cognition. Psychological Science 21:729–36.

D. W. Sellen & D. B. Smay (2001) Relationship between subsistence and age at weaning in “preindustrial” societies. Human Nature 12:4787.

H. M. Wellman , D. Cross & J. Watson (2001) Meta-analysis of theory-of-mind development: The truth about false belief. Child Development 72:655–84.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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