Stone-age orang-utan
: some implications of primate behaviour for the archaeological record

  • Andrew George Collis

    Student thesis: Other thesis - CDU


    This thesis is concerned with primate behaviour and intelligence, and the implications these have for the archaeological record. It focuses on why intelligence evolved and how intelligence is reflected in behaviour. 

    Two broad and opposing hypotheses exist which explain the evolution of primate intelligence. One involves selection of intelligence due to the benefits it confers in the ecological domain, the other sees selection due to the benefits conferred in the social domain. Neither hypothesis is supported by data from living hominoids. This is mainly because of the difficulties in making inferences about intelligence. The disparity between observed behaviour in the wild and the capacity for behaviour, reflected in captive, rehabilitating or laboratory situations, highlights this problem. Rather then providing ad hoc explanations for this lack of support, a non-adaptive alternative is suggested. 

    The problems identified in making inferences about intelligence also have implications for understanding extinct species. The archaeology of pre-modern hominids has been used to make inferences about their intellect. Neanderthals, particularly, have come under scrutiny. It is suggested that the archaeological evidence does not, and cannot, provide significant evidence to assume Neanderthal intelligence was significantly different to modern humans.

    Note: Abstract -- "then' was a typographical error from original text.
    Date of Award1996
    Original languageEnglish

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