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An Ancestral Romance

edited August 2006 in Human
imageTo understand the mind's evolution, it is probably best to forget everything one knows about human history and human civilization. Pretend that the last ten thousand years did not happen. Imagine the way our species was a hundred thousand years ago. From the outside, they would look like just another group of large primates foraging around Africa, living in small bands, using a few simple tools. Even their courtship looks uneventful: a male and a female just sit together, their eyes meet, they breathe at each other in odd staccato rhythms for several hours, until they start kissing or one gives up and goes away. But if one could understand their quiet, intricately patterned exhalations, one could appreciate what is going on. Between their ballon-shaped skulls passes back and forth a new kind of courtship signal, a communication system unlike anything else on the planet. A language. Instead of dancing around in physical space like normal animals, these primates use language to dance around in mindscapes of their own invention, playing with ideas...
Extract from 'The Mating Mind : How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature' by Geoffrey Miller


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