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Climate Change Did Not Speed Up Innovation

Sep 02, 2016 04:59 AM EDT

In the face of the ongoing climate change, it has become increasingly important to look back at how our ancestors behaved when going through a climate change event so that we might learn from their history.

Climate change has been lauded as one of the main factors of progress in technology and culture during the stone age. A team of scientists from Norway, South Africa and the U.K. did a comprehensive study on the link between climate change and progress. Their research was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

"While acknowledging that climate and environmental shifts may have influenced human subsistence strategies, the research suggests climate change may not have been the driving factor behind cultural and technological innovations in these localities and encourage context-specific evaluation of the role of climate change in driving early human experimentation," co-author and professor from the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion at the University of Bergen (UiB) Christopher S. Henshilwood said in a news release.

"Climate change alone cannot explain why innovation takes place and our research shows that innovation is not dependent on climatic and environmental instability," he added.

Technological and cultural innovations during the stone age spanned from agricultural settlements to making tools out of bone and wood. Symbolic expression and jewelry making also appeared for the first time.

The team analyzed animal remains in South Africa from 98,000 to 59,000 years ago in order to learn about climate and environmental changes that had happened in the region. They found no link between the changes observed and our ancestor's progress.

Karen L. van Niekerk, co-author and postdoctoral Fellow from the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion at UiB, said their research indicated innovation was more likely related to "changes in long-distance contact, socio-cultural interactions and population movements."

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