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Evidence of recursion in tool use

  • Lluís Barceló-Coblijn (a1) and Antoni Gomila (a1)

We discuss the discovery of technologies involving knotted netting, such as textiles, basketry, and cordage, in the Upper Paleolithic. This evidence, in our view, suggests a new way of connecting toolmaking and syntactic structure in human evolution, because these technologies already exhibit an “infinite use of finite means,” which we take to constitute the key transition to human cognition.

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M. A. Arbib (2005) From monkey-like action recognition to human language: An evolutionary framework for neurolinguistics. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28:105–24.

N. Chomsky (1959) On certain formal properties of grammars. Information and Control 2:137–67.

M. D. Hauser , N. Chomsky & W. T. Fitch (2002) The faculty of language: What is it, who has it, and how did it evolve? Science 298:1569–79.

C. S. Henshilwood & C. W. Marean (2003) The origin of modern human behavior. Current Anthropology 44:627–51.

G. Rizzolatti & M. A. Arbib (1998) Language within our grasp. Trends in Neurosciences 21(5):188–94.

L. Wadley (2005) Putting ochre to the test: Replication studies of adhesives that may have been used for hafting tools in the Middle Stone Age. Journal of Human Evolution 49:587601.

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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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