New PDF release: A History of Technology

By Charles Singer et al (eds)

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Manipulative skill is correlated with the power of visual scrutiny, which is greatly enhanced by the possession of a specially sensitive spot on the retina {macula lutea). This structure is found in the eyes of carnivores, primates, and birds, but not in those of hoofed animals which— if one excludes the elephants— have very little ability or need to manipulate objects. resembled their modem survivors, the tree-shrews, lemurs, and tarsier (figure 5 A and b ) . Like them, they probably lived mainly on insects and fruit.

The fact that, in most individuals, languageassociations are built up in the part o f the cortex which controls the right hand is probably connected with their being right-handed— another indication o f the close connexion between manual activity and speech. Both may be considered as forms o f tool-making. i8 IV. O R IG IN S 19 OF T O O L -M A K IN G We may now return to the origins o f regular tool-making. Perhaps within the Pliocene, certainly by the dawn of the Pleistocene, that is about a million years ago, the typically human level o f cerebral development had been reached.

In the lower mammals, such as rabbits, the power of initiating movements resides chiefly in the lower part of the brain, and if the motor area of the cortex be removed the animal still continues to move about in much the normal way. In the evolution of the higher mammals, the motor area came to control movements to an increasing extent, working in conjunction with the adjacent association areas. This most important development is linked with the process by which the animal becomes more conscious o f all its movements, thereby acquiring greater capacity for education in skilled behaviour, and for drawing on past experience.

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A History of Technology by Charles Singer et al (eds)


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