Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

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Dr. Marian Hamilton

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Evolutionary cognitive archaeology evaluates the evolution of cognitive advancements through past hominins and artefacts to understand their intellectual capabilities of planning, reasoning, memory, and problem-solving skills up until present day. I will explore cognitive evolution through a literature review of the effects on Homo erectus from their controlled exploitation of fire. Utilization of fire by H. erectus directly impacted their nutritional intake resulting in physiological changes which included increased brain sizes. Larger brains created room for expansion of the dopaminergic system allowing new cognitive abilities to adapt. Results from these adaptations included a more efficient thermoregulatory system and extraversive behaviours that strengthened interpersonal relationships. The newly acquired skills encouraged the beginnings of the complex behaviours seen in modern day Homo sapiens.

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