How and in what way did paleolithic people come up with innovative ways to adapt to their environment?

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mrkirschner's profile pic

mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The ability to adapt to the geography and environment was not just a luxury item for paleolithic humans, it was a means of survival.  The period of time known as the paleolithic period is over 2 million years.  The variety and means of technology over this time period is great.  There is also a marked difference between technologies from one area to the next.  This demonstrates that early humans were using the geography and climate of their environments to survive.

Probably the greatest innovation of the paleolithic period is the use of fire. Fire provided humans with warmth and the ability to cook meats.  Humans of this period became carnivorous which gave them an advantage in terms of calories and consumed and an increase in protein intake.  Many of the artifacts from the paleolithic period are tools used for hunting and securing food supply for survival.  These tools started as digging tools and evolved into wooden spears and then later stone and obsidian blades and arrows.  By the upper paleolithic period, humans were very efficient at creating tools to use for food acquisition.  


Also evident in the artifacts of paleolithic humans is the development of culture.  By studying the cave art from the period, a connection can be made to early development of religious practice.  There have been discoveries of jewelry and beads in addition to sewn clothing in the later period.  Musical instruments have been discovered from the period.  This points to a human need to use their tools for cultural development.  

dhenrikson's profile pic

dhenrikson | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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The Paleolithic Period is a long period in which we observe fossils of early hominins at the beginning through modern humans at the end. During this period, Paleolithic people migrated across the globe, and experienced several major global climate shifts. Their adaptations to these new environments and climate shifts include the use of bone, wood, and stone to serve as tools, the use of fire, and social adaptations such as language and hunter-gatherer societies. Many hypotheses regarding these innovations suggest a "discovery" that then grows in complexity to lead to modern technologies. Paralleling the long time period is the increased motor skills of hominids and the increased efficiency in transmitting culture horizontally through a society and vertically through generations. So, the accidental capturing of fire leads to ways to create it with tools; the use of fire for warmth and protection from predators leads to thawing of frozen meat to purposeful cooking. The finding by Paleolithic people of broken stones with sharp edges, to the breaking of stones to get sharp edges, to the perfection of knapped stones for tools and art demonstrates how Paleolithic people may have learned from observing their environment and through increasing cognition and culture, improved their tools for use in various and changing environments.

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