Tech UPTechnologyCreativity has allowed us to dominate the planet

Creativity has allowed us to dominate the planet

Human beings are the species that dominates the world today. We owe everything to the exclusive thinking machine that we carry under our heads and that has allowed us to impose ourselves on the rest of our competitors. That is why the study of the evolution of the human brain is a field that is as difficult to study as it is fundamental to understanding our journey as a species to date. And among humans themselves we have differentiated and prospered some more than others thanks to the ability to adapt. And in that capacity those human groups that were more creative were more successful.

A field of study in constant debate

The question is obvious. In a time of extremely cold temperatures, there was a group of humans who knew how to make needles and make fur to keep warm, while another group did not master these skills. Who had more options to survive the cold?

In this theoretical and idealized case, it is easy to deduce the importance of creativity, but such clear circumstances are not always investigated, nor is the necessary information available to know what made the difference during the evolution of the human being. That is, when do we start to be creative and how do we measure creativity? Why did Homo sapiens prosper above the rest of the now extinct human races?

It seems that our creativity to solve everyday problems was greater . However, the genetic basis that allowed creativity to emerge in modern humans remains largely unknown to researchers.

“Creativity can be succinctly defined as the use of imagination or original ideas to achieve worthwhile goals, and it is a multifaceted phenomenon that can be assessed in terms of particular aspects of intelligence and/or particular aspects of personality.”

According to specialists, we became smarter thanks to social competitiveness . Therefore, it is often thought that the ideal place for our brain and creativity to develop was where there was more population. The exchange of ideas and the competition for resources would make the human being the most creative species on the planet. However, we have some archaeological finds that raise certain doubts in this regard and open new perspectives in the scientific debate, since samples of creativity are given in sparsely populated areas and on dates prior to those suspected.

breaking with tradition

Two recent studies suggest that stone age human culture was more creative than previously thought . Previous work argued that the tool-making methods studied in southern Africa were widespread 72,000 years ago. These innovations came from the coastal areas, where the wealth of resources made possible the coexistence of a larger population and the meeting between different groups that exchanged information.

But a research team led by Alex Mackay of the University of Wollongong, Australia, has found tools and other novel artifacts in an enclave in the African interior, where people would not come into contact with each other as clearly as on the coast. . Not only that, but the tools date to between 92,000 and 80,000 years ago , long predating creative innovations on the coast. According to Mackay:

“92,000 years ago, humans, even those who probably lived in low-density populations, were more than capable of generating new ideas when left alone.”

From the creativity of those humans were born artifacts such as ostrich egg shells to transport and store water, like a canteen from prehistory; long-distance transport of marine shellfish and tools made using heat.

The first painters of Asia

Another study has investigated remains found in Xiamobei, a site located in northern China. There they have found the oldest attested use of paint in all of East Asia . Specifically, it is an innovative processing of ocher some 40,000 years ago, to which are added lithic tools similar to blades that could be embedded in some type of handle and other artifacts made of bone. The use of ocher captured in this archaeological expedition advances what was until now the oldest evidence of the use of pigments in East Asia by 9,000 years.

Undoubtedly, the creativity of the human being was developed through complex processes and environmental situations that could promote innovation and cultural transmission. A field of research in which much remains to be learned.


Bower, B. 2022. Ancient Homo sapiens took a talent for cultural creativity from Africa to Asia.

Mackay, A. et al. 2022. Environmental influences on human innovation and behavioural diversity in southern Africa 92–80 thousand years ago. Nature Ecolocy & Evolution 6, 361-369. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-022-01667-5.

Wang, F. G. et al. 2022. Innovative ochre processing and tool use in China 40,000 years ago. Nature 603, 284-289. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04445-2.

Zwir, I. et al. 2021. Evolution of genetic networks for human creativity. Molecular Psychiatry 27, 354-376. DOI: 10.1038/s41380-021-01097-y.

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