Tuesday 22 May 2018

Earliest humans could talk - and sail

Prof Everett claims Homo erectus, who lived 1.9 million years ago, invented language and used it to help build boats to colonise remote islands such as Flores in Indonesia and Crete, where fossils have been found even though there were never land links to Africa. Stock Image: AFP/Getty Images
Prof Everett claims Homo erectus, who lived 1.9 million years ago, invented language and used it to help build boats to colonise remote islands such as Flores in Indonesia and Crete, where fossils have been found even though there were never land links to Africa. Stock Image: AFP/Getty Images

Sarah Knapton

In the beginning was the word. And it was first spoken by Homo erectus, according to a controversial new theory.

Most palaeoanthropologists believe language emerged with the evolution of Homo sapiens around 350,000 years ago. But Daniel Everett, author of 'How Language Began', claims our earlier ancestors must have been able to talk to each other.

Prof Everett claims Homo erectus, who lived 1.9 million years ago, invented language and used it to help build boats to colonise remote islands such as Flores in Indonesia and Crete, where fossils have been found even though there were never land links to Africa.

"Everybody talks about Homo erectus as a stupid apelike creature, and yet erectus was the smartest creature that had ever walked the Earth," he said.

"They had planning abilities. They made tools. But the most incredible tools that erectus made were vessels for sailing the open ocean. Erectus needed language when they were sailing. They accomplished too much for this to simply be the sort of communication that we see in other species without symbols."

Irish Independent

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