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Monkey Business
—
What apes and New World monkeys tell us
about the origins of human culture, technology
and knowledge man...
Context
 Topic results from my professional
interests from evolutionary biology to
organizational knowledge management
 ...
Summary
 Concepts
– What it means to be human
– Intelligence
– Social organization
– Technology
– Knowledge and culture
...
Some concepts
Characterizing the human species
 Social
– Individuals depend for their survival on social and economic
connections with ...
Social organization
 Social refers to the interactions of
individuals with one another
– Power & control
– Economic & res...
Intelligence and knowledge
 Intelligence is the capacity to solve problems
of life
 Karl Popper’s evolutionary theory of...
Technology
 Tools
– Extend bodily capabilities
– Extend cognitive capabilities
– Extend capabilities & capacity for socia...
Tools + culture make humans
 Comparative approach
 Who else uses tools
– Some birds (crows, Galapagos finches, bower bir...
Knowledge and culture
 Individual learning vs sharing knowledge
culturally
 Knowledge essential to individual, group and...
How did apes come
to conquer the
world?
—
Hypothesis: An
expulsion from
Eden
Apes in the primeval forest
(Adam and Eva in the Paradise Brueghel & Rubens - 1615)
 Life was easy
– Our ancestors could
...
Plate tectonics turned Eden into Hell
 Spreading in Great Rift Valley
– Lowered floor
– Raised mountains
on either
side
–...
The expulsion from the garden of Eden
 Our direct ancestors were caught in a crack in the earth some 10-
5 million years ...
The dry and thorny cradle of mankind – it’s not Eden
15
Envisat
Finding enough food to make a living
 Optimizing dietary quantity and quality
 Modes of acquisition/foraging
– Random pi...
 Forest-dwelling chimpanzee-human last common
ancestor (CLCA)
– Primarily frugivorous with some tool-based extractive for...
Hominins using haak en steek branches as tools (Guthrie 2007): a. for driving big cats away from their prey. b. The
simple...
Cognitive advances enable grade shifting revolutions in cultural
and organizational cognition
 Accelerating change in ext...
20
Knowledge-based revolutions in material technology cause grade
shifts in the ecological nature of the human species
 A...
What “caused”
apes to conquer
the world?
—
Facts
Our primate family tree
 Our ancestors were frugivorous tree-dwellers
 To our family, the Garden of Eden is a forest
22
...
Cercopithecidae
Old World Monkeys
Hylobatidae
Small apes
Gorillini
Ponginae
Hominina
(Hominins)
Hominini
(Hominines)
Panin...
Chimpanzees and bonobos suggest that our common
ancestor was a smart tool user
24
Videos
from
Bossou
Making thick and thin...
Other chimp tools
25
 Types
– Spears – used to kill & extract small mammalian
prey hiding in tree holes
– Digging sticks ...
 Intelligence
– Mechanical: chimps show
capacity to make & use
a variety of tools
– Social: show significant
tolerance & ...
Repeating the
experiment in a
New World
—
Was the emergence of human
cognition a chance event or is
it an expected outcome...
Repeating the experiment in a New World
28
~ 40 mya
 The common ancestor of primates in both worlds ran
along the interco...
Introducing smart monkeys from the New World
 Many people see capuchins as smart pets
– Size of a house cat!
– Life-span ...
Another expulsion from the Garden of Eden
Brueghel & Rubens knew them in 1615
30
Will the real capuchin stand up!
 A knowledgable capuchin prepares its own meal using a
very heavy stone hammer and a log...
Just how smart are capuchins?
 Clip documented by a series of publications by Westergaard and
colleagues from 1987-2007 i...
The capuchin’s knowledge-based nut-cracking industry
33
6. select suitably dry nut(s)
7. transport nuts to anvil site
8. p...
Other technologies reported in the scientific
literature
 Capuchins in primeval forests not seen to use tools
 Tool uses...
Platyrrhine ancestor colonized New World 30-40 mya
 Could raft across narrower Atlantic in 1-2 weeks
 Hystricomorph rode...
Genetic proliferation in & after last glaciation
36
Sapajus
Atlantic forest
Cebus
Amazonia
6.0 5.0 4.0 3.0 2.0 1.0 0.0 now
Forging a hard life in a barren landscape
37
Amazonia
Thorn scrub
Atlantic forest
 Caatinga and Cerrado
 Short rainy sea...
Adversity is the mother of intelligence and invention
 Encephalization quotients of some primtes
Sapajus
Carrying two nuts and a hammer to an anvil site
Semi-terrestrial capuchins are being selected for
bipedalism
39
click pict...
Could these monkeys rule the world with human grade
cognition if it were not for humans?
 Encephalization quotient equiva...
What do you think?
 Virgil has the nuts, Vulcan has the knife
41
click picture
for video
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Monkey Business — What apes and New World monkeys tell us about the origins of human culture, technology and knowledge management

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Presentation explores the biology and behavior of our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, and our distant Brazilian cousins, the capuchin monkeys, to understand the origins of human technologies and the cultural accumulation of knowledge. The presentation links to a number of video clips demonstrating the transfer of knowledge about the sophisticated use of tools by non-human primates.

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Monkey Business — What apes and New World monkeys tell us about the origins of human culture, technology and knowledge management

  1. 1. Monkey Business — What apes and New World monkeys tell us about the origins of human culture, technology and knowledge management William P. Hall President Kororoit Institute Proponents and Supporters Assoc., Inc. - http://kororoit.org william-hall@bigpond.com http://www.orgs-evolution-knowledge.net Melbourne Emergence Meetup 11/09/2013 Access my research papers from Google Citations Access book project from Dropbox Attribution CC BY
  2. 2. Context  Topic results from my professional interests from evolutionary biology to organizational knowledge management  What circumstances and processes in the evolution of humans have led to the emergence of human intelligence, social organization and a technological capacity to accumulate and manage cultural knowledge?  Is this a rare, one-off event or is the emergence of self-conscious intelligence potentially repeatable? 2
  3. 3. Summary  Concepts – What it means to be human – Intelligence – Social organization – Technology – Knowledge and culture  Knowledge  Knowledge sharing  Knowledge management  Biological approach: – what do our near relatives and distant cousins tell us about the probability of human intelligence arising  Discussion and extrapolation3
  4. 4. Some concepts
  5. 5. Characterizing the human species  Social – Individuals depend for their survival on social and economic connections with other people – Social systems structured at several levels of organization – Organizations function as economic species  Based on living knowledge – Individual knowledge – Cultural knowledge – Organizational knowledge  Technological – “Tools” extend & enhance organic capabilities to interact with the external world – Essentially all individual interactions with the natural world are now technologically mediated5
  6. 6. Social organization  Social refers to the interactions of individuals with one another – Power & control – Economic & resource exchange – Sex, reproduction & family – Knowledge & information exchange  Organization – Systems structured from repeated social interactions of individuals over a period of time – Organizations are entities in their own rights – Organizational entities also interact as individuals with one another6
  7. 7. Intelligence and knowledge  Intelligence is the capacity to solve problems of life  Karl Popper’s evolutionary theory of knowledge – Knowledge is solutions to problems – Knowledge is constructed by solving the problems of life – Knowledge grows by eliminating errors  Life cannot continue without having solutions to the problems of life 7
  8. 8. Technology  Tools – Extend bodily capabilities – Extend cognitive capabilities – Extend capabilities & capacity for social interaction  The post-primate individual – Tools for the individual give the animal human capabilities  The post-human individual – The human and the human’s tools are the individual  What do tools for social interaction provide? 8
  9. 9. Tools + culture make humans  Comparative approach  Who else uses tools – Some birds (crows, Galapagos finches, bower birds) – Monkeys (capuchin monkeys) – Apes  In what contexts – Personal comfort & grooming – Shelter – Foraging & feeding – Display & communication – Defence against predation 9
  10. 10. Knowledge and culture  Individual learning vs sharing knowledge culturally  Knowledge essential to individual, group and cultural survival  Is the emergence of socio-technical organization a chance event or is it a predictable consequence of complex life? 10
  11. 11. How did apes come to conquer the world? — Hypothesis: An expulsion from Eden
  12. 12. Apes in the primeval forest (Adam and Eva in the Paradise Brueghel & Rubens - 1615)  Life was easy – Our ancestors could subsist on fruits of the forest – Available water – Sleep in tree nests12
  13. 13. Plate tectonics turned Eden into Hell  Spreading in Great Rift Valley – Lowered floor – Raised mountains on either side – Mountains block rain  Climate deterioration – Drier – More variable – Forests  thorn scrub13
  14. 14. The expulsion from the garden of Eden  Our direct ancestors were caught in a crack in the earth some 10- 5 million years ago leading to climate deterioration – Formation of the East African Rift – Mountain building on each side of the rift blocks rain from east and west. – Floor of the rift increasingly arid  Grassy woodland  Thorn scrub  Savanna – Adapting to a hard life by developing extractive foraging 14
  15. 15. The dry and thorny cradle of mankind – it’s not Eden 15 Envisat
  16. 16. Finding enough food to make a living  Optimizing dietary quantity and quality  Modes of acquisition/foraging – Random picking (if it looks, smells, & tastes good, eat it) – Targeted picking (know what is in season and where to find it) – Extractive picking (know where edibles hide & how to extract them) – Tool assisted extraction & processing (find & make inedible edible)  Probing & spearing to extend the reach  Shovelling to reach into the ground  Pounding to break and smash  Tearing and cutting to improve access  Heating & drying to make more manipulable  Cooking to alter chemistry  Planting and husbandry  Storage, transportation, & distribution – Putting things together to make complex tools and processes  Extending cognition – Mapping the territory – Imagining where food might be hidden & how to access it – Retaining & sharing know how – Increase cognitive capacity to manage more/more complex knowledge16
  17. 17.  Forest-dwelling chimpanzee-human last common ancestor (CLCA) – Primarily frugivorous with some tool-based extractive foraging – Fission-fusion social structure, some transfer of cultural knowledge – High selfishness, limited cooperation in defense and hunting  Savanna apes as extractive foragers & scavengers – Edible plant resources more widely scattered and harder to find – New kinds of resources needed  Roots, tubers and nuts  Meats – New dangers  Big cats  Hyenas  Wild dogs  Selection pressures – Imagine where food might be hidden – Retain & transfer cultural knowledge – Increase memory & cognitive capacity Climatic deterioration in E African Rift Valley expelled forest apes (our ancestors) from the Garden of Eden ~5 mya 17 (Tattersall 2012)
  18. 18. Hominins using haak en steek branches as tools (Guthrie 2007): a. for driving big cats away from their prey. b. The simple conversion of a thorn branch into a "megathorn" lance for active hunting. Cooperative defense and scavenging of carnivore kills cached in trees gave early hominins increased access to meat on the savanna  Savanna offers limited resource of edible plant foods but a rich supply of grass-eating herbivore meat (most food found on the ground)  Chimpanzee social defence against leopards is uncoordinated mobbing with clubs - Might deter leopard from returning to tree cache - Not a pride of lions or mob of hyenas on ground  Simple requisites for grade shift to aggressive scavenging on the ground – Coordinated & cooperative defense and offense using effective deterrence – Oldowan butchering tools for cutting skin & ligaments 18
  19. 19. Cognitive advances enable grade shifting revolutions in cultural and organizational cognition  Accelerating change in extending human cognition – > 5 million years ago – social defence  cooperative foraging & hunting  knowledge-based autopoietic groups – ~ 2.0 mya - linguistically coordinated activities around campfires to share group knowledge (mime, dancing, singing, story-telling, myth, ritual) – ~ 200 thousand years ago – mnemonic songlines apply ritual & method of loci to landscapes to build & retain cultural memories – ~ 12 kya – mnemonic guilds & monumental architectures enable husbandry, settlement, farming & economic specialization – ~ 7 kya – tokens & writing enable bureaucratic cities & states – ~ 600 years ago – communications, coordination & rise of chartered companies – ~ 100 ya – instant communication & rise of transnationals – ~ Now – emergence of global brains & global cognition 19
  20. 20. 20 Knowledge-based revolutions in material technology cause grade shifts in the ecological nature of the human species  Accelerating change in our material technologies: – > 5 million years ago - Tool Making: sticks and stone tools plus fire (~ 1 mya) extend human reach, diet and digestion – ~ 11 thousand years ago - Agricultural Revolution: Ropes and digging implements control and manage non–human organic metabolism – ~ 560 years ago Printing enables Reformation & Scientific Revolution – ~ 2.5 ca - Industrial Revolution: extends/replaces human and animal muscle power with inorganic mechanical power – ~ 50 years ago - Microelectronics Revolution: extends human cognitive capabilities with computers – ~ 5 years ago - Cyborg Revolution: convergence of human and machine cognition with smartphones (today) and neural prosthetics (tomorrow)
  21. 21. What “caused” apes to conquer the world? — Facts
  22. 22. Our primate family tree  Our ancestors were frugivorous tree-dwellers  To our family, the Garden of Eden is a forest 22 Source
  23. 23. Cercopithecidae Old World Monkeys Hylobatidae Small apes Gorillini Ponginae Hominina (Hominins) Hominini (Hominines) Panina Apes – our close cousins 23  Fossils + genomics tells us a lot about relationships to other primates  Comparative biology suggests how differences may have evolved After Locke et al. 2011
  24. 24. Chimpanzees and bonobos suggest that our common ancestor was a smart tool user 24 Videos from Bossou Making thick and thin probes to fish for ants Clubs and a thrown rock deter/kill a leopard Chimps learn hammer and anvil Breaking into a beehive click picture for video click picture for video click picture for video
  25. 25. Other chimp tools 25  Types – Spears – used to kill & extract small mammalian prey hiding in tree holes – Digging sticks – used to harvest roots & tubers – Mashers – large pestles used to mash hearts of palm trees – Sponges – used to extract drinking water from tree holes  Cultural and ecological distribution – Culturally transmitted knowledge: tools used vary by location from none to many – Savanna chimpanzees have most extensive tool kits
  26. 26.  Intelligence – Mechanical: chimps show capacity to make & use a variety of tools – Social: show significant tolerance & can cooperate on tasks – Linguistic: both  learn more than 250 word lexigrams  use in 2-3 word phrases  Bonobos don’t use tools in the wild – but it is clear that they could if they needed to! – Kanzi is one smart ape! – watch extraordinary documentary – Natural history – Nova – the last great ape Bonobos and chimps in the lab 26 click picture for video
  27. 27. Repeating the experiment in a New World — Was the emergence of human cognition a chance event or is it an expected outcome of normal evolutionary processes?
  28. 28. Repeating the experiment in a New World 28 ~ 40 mya  The common ancestor of primates in both worlds ran along the interconnected highways of the tree canopy – Small sized omnivore, with grasping hands & feet – Ready supply of fruits, flowers, grubs & succulent leaves – Avoids the predators of ground and air
  29. 29. Introducing smart monkeys from the New World  Many people see capuchins as smart pets – Size of a house cat! – Life-span 40-45 years 29 Detail from "Students encounter an organ-grinder monkey on campus with man holding Times-Picayune box, Rice University," 1960. Rice University, http://hdl.handle.net/1911/77137 click picture for video
  30. 30. Another expulsion from the Garden of Eden Brueghel & Rubens knew them in 1615 30
  31. 31. Will the real capuchin stand up!  A knowledgable capuchin prepares its own meal using a very heavy stone hammer and a log as an anvil (see other video for the full sequence behind the picture) 31 click picture for video
  32. 32. Just how smart are capuchins?  Clip documented by a series of publications by Westergaard and colleagues from 1987-2007 independently repeated by other labs 32 click picture for video
  33. 33. The capuchin’s knowledge-based nut-cracking industry 33 6. select suitably dry nut(s) 7. transport nuts to anvil site 8. place nut in suitable anvil pit 9. strike nut with hammer to crack (60-70 blows may be required!!) 10. eat nut & possibly share with young scroungers learning the process  Steps in the industrial process 1. Select ripe nut 2. Peel 3. Dry in sun for several days 4. Select appropriate anvil site 5. Find & transport suitable hammer stone(s) to anvil site click picture for video
  34. 34. Other technologies reported in the scientific literature  Capuchins in primeval forests not seen to use tools  Tool uses seen in various cultures – Defensive:  Bombarding jaguars and people with rocks and boulders from cliff-tops  Bashing snakes with sticks (too small to fight off leopards) – Hunting: spearing lizards & small mammals in holes with sharp sticks – Mining: using stone picks to extract more suitable stone from hillsides – Cultivating: using stones and sticks as hoes and shovels to dig up edible roots & tubers – Communication: females in oestrous throw stones towards desirable males to attract attention  Different groups use different tools34
  35. 35. Platyrrhine ancestor colonized New World 30-40 mya  Could raft across narrower Atlantic in 1-2 weeks  Hystricomorph rodents colonized around same time35
  36. 36. Genetic proliferation in & after last glaciation 36 Sapajus Atlantic forest Cebus Amazonia 6.0 5.0 4.0 3.0 2.0 1.0 0.0 now
  37. 37. Forging a hard life in a barren landscape 37 Amazonia Thorn scrub Atlantic forest  Caatinga and Cerrado  Short rainy seasons (~ 2 months)  Hot almost entirely rainless dry seasons  Thorn scrubs and savanna
  38. 38. Adversity is the mother of intelligence and invention  Encephalization quotients of some primtes Sapajus
  39. 39. Carrying two nuts and a hammer to an anvil site Semi-terrestrial capuchins are being selected for bipedalism 39 click picture for video
  40. 40. Could these monkeys rule the world with human grade cognition if it were not for humans?  Encephalization quotient equivalent to hominins ~ 4-3 mya  May have less symbolic and mechanical intelligence than chimps/bonobos  No ape other than humans shows as much understanding of its tools or manages as complex an industrial process as do Sapajus  Clear evidence for cultural sharing and transmission of sophisticated survival knowledge 40
  41. 41. What do you think?  Virgil has the nuts, Vulcan has the knife 41 click picture for video

Presentation explores the biology and behavior of our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos, and our distant Brazilian cousins, the capuchin monkeys, to understand the origins of human technologies and the cultural accumulation of knowledge. The presentation links to a number of video clips demonstrating the transfer of knowledge about the sophisticated use of tools by non-human primates.

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