€1.5 million European grant for evolution of human culture project

Dr Claudio Tennie, Birmingham Fellow in the School of Psychology, has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) grant of €1.5 million for a project to evaluate early stone tools in the context of cumulative culture.

Cultural, not genetic, adaptations have allowed humans to colonise the planet, but it remains unclear when such forms of culture first arose. The use of stone tools provides interesting insight. Recent research suggests that stone tool use may be the result of individual reinventions, or latent solutions more commonly seen in great apes, rather than through copied behaviour as per modern humans. The STONECULT project will evaluate whether early stone tools were more similar to modern human or modern ape technologies, and as such confirm, or radically change, the understood timeline for the emergence of cumulative culture.