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John Hoffecker at a site in Russia  (Source: Vance T. Holliday, University of Arizona)
John Hoffecker compares this evolutionary shift to the complex communication of information between honeybees

John Hoffecker, study leader and a research associate from the University of Colorado-Boulder, has worked at sites in the Arctic and Europe, and is an internationally known archaeologist. He has found that there is archaeological evidence for the evolution of the human mind.

Hoffecker discovered that the minds power to evolve and create a variety of thoughts that are communicated through speech, art, movement and technologies is attributed to the "super-brain," which is the collective mind. According to Hoffecker, the formation of the super-brain occurred 75,000 years ago in Africa where the rare ability to "share complex thoughts among individual brains" took place. 

Hoffecker said the human super-brain is very similar to the way honeybees communicate. Humans are capable of sharing complex thoughts among individual brains, and by studying the honeybee, which also communicates complex information like food locations and nest sites through its "waggle dance," Hoffecker was able to understand how the human brain and super-brain shared information amongst others through the creation of language, art, movement and technology. 

"Humans obviously evolved a much wider range of communication tools to express their thoughts, the most important being language," said Hoffecker. "Individual human brains within social groups became integrated into a neurologic internet of sorts, giving birth to the mind."

Hoffecker believes that abstract designs scratched onto mineral pigment 75,000 years ago in Africa was the starting point of a creative explosion, and is evidence for the capability of speech. This creative explosion led to new types of artifacts like stone tools and may have even led to other aspects of human evolution like bipedalism. Through these evolutionary shifts, early humans were able to communicate complex thoughts outside of the individual brain.  

Hoffecker also noted that the first "crude" stone tools were made 2.5 million years ago, and then, the first sign of the super-brain came 1.6 million years ago with the first crafting of the stone hand axe, which showed that the human brain was capable of imagining something that didn't exist and then created it. These axes represented a whole new design and a whole new way of thinking.  

"They reflect a design or mental template stored in the nerve cells of the brain and imposed on the rock, and they seemed to have emerged from a strong feedback relationship among the hands, eyes, brains and the tools themselves," said Hoffecker. 

Humans then began creating polished bone awls and shell ornaments by 75,000 years ago. Hoffecker also theorized that modern humans dispersed from Africa to Europe around 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, which may be the "minimum date" for language formation. 

"With the appearance of symbols and language - and the consequent integration of brains into a super-brain - the human mind seems to have taken off as a potentially unlimited creative force," said Hoffecker. "Since all languages have basically the same structure, it is inconceivable to me that they could have evolved independently at different times and places." 

In addition, Hoffecker found ancient bone and ivory needles with eyelets from 45,000 years ago and a small figurine from 40,000 years ago in previous studies. Ancient musical instruments have been dated back to 30,000 years ago as well. This stands as more evidence for the evolving creative mind of humans. 

"Whether it's a hand axe, a flute or a Chevrolet, humans are continually recombining bits of information into novel forms, and the variations are potentially infinite," said Hoffecker.





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