Although homosapiens physically looked like us some 200,000 years ago, their brains and social behavior were quite different. Not until 80,000 years ago, did humans begin to develop characteristics recognizable in every day 21st century life. The reason for the transformation? Technology.

The First step towards civilization: Creation of a tool in 2001: A Space OdysseyNo, not the monolith of 2001, nor the wheel, nor the 32nm wafer. Beyond the first object grabbed and used as a tool, carving stone spearheads brought about the change according to archaeologists from Lund University in Sweden.

The crafting of a stone spearhead took planning, design, and interaction across generations. Like getting to Carnegie Hall, the making of a spearhead took practice, practice, practice. That meant interaction between the group members, teaching, learning, trying. Scientists think this led to the brain developing new abilities.

A cultural learning process, passing information down, created a more social society and affected the brain and cognitive ability according to Dr. Anders Hogberg. From there, the ability to express symbolism and abstract thought expanded. We see the results in decorated objects.

Monoliths, tools, and humans, where does it lead? Check out what one view of Kubrick?s 2001 says about the interaction. Click here, and be patient, the lengthy video is an insightful explanation of the quasi sci-fi movie and where tools might lead us.

Hollow Rock Shelter cave where research is taking place. Photo: Lund University
Hollow Rock Shelter cave where research is taking place. Photo: Lund University

Professor Lars Larsson says the location of the Hollow Rock Shelter cave they are excavating is more than 100 miles north of Cape Town in South Africa. Lund University is cooperating with the University of Cape Town in the research.