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TagSymbolic thought

group-of-neanderthal-hunting-a-bison-stockpack-adobe-stock
Group of neanderthal hunting a bison

New Find Pushes Symbolic Thinking Further Back in Human History

A Neanderthal find from 51,000 years ago is another piece in the puzzle of the origin of abstract human thinking

At one time, scientists believed that only some groups of humans possessed the ability to think symbolically. Neanderthals were held to be an example of humans who could not do so. But more recently, as George Dvorsky tells us at Gizmodo, a 2019 finding at the Unicorn Cave in the Harz Mountains in central Germany challenges that belief: Patterns deliberately etched onto a bone belonging to a giant deer are signs that Neanderthals possessed the capacity for symbolic thought. Neanderthals decorated themselves with feathers, drew cave paintings, and created jewelry from eagle talons, so it comes as little surprise to learn that Neanderthals also engraved patterns onto bone. The discovery of this 51,000-year-old bone carving, as described in Nature Ecology…