How did the intelligence and language of humans evolve?


Katherine and Jarrett



Intelligence evolved as man began to walk on two legs, and were better able to capture food. As they developed weapons to take down animals, they could develop a language that consists more of sounds and body language.


As humans became animals who walked upright, they could access food that other animals could not. This new access caused them to live longer than most animals,and evolve, learning primitive skills, like gathering and the use of tools. They also learned to cook food, meaning they wouldn't need such large jaws, morphing the skull to make room for bigger brains. They eventually used these advantages to come together and form a language.

Evolution of Human Intelligence, On Human Intelligence,
Coon, C. (2001) On Human Intelligence

"My own view is that language developed much more gradually, starting with the gestures of apes, then gathering momentum as the bipedal hominids evolved. The appearance of the larger-brained genus Homo some 2 million years ago may have signaled the emergence and later development of syntax, with vocalizations providing a mounting refrain. What may have distinguished Homo sapiens was the final switch from a mixture of gestural and vocal communication to an autonomous vocal language, embellished by gesture but not dependent on it."

The origin of language and Communication

Final Model:



Millions of years ago, much of the land on earth was composed of amazons and tropical forests, especially in Africa, where life was flourishing. A series of iceages beginning 2.6 million years ao forced the climate and forests to decline and become a series of large grasslands. These grasses eventually became the Sahara desert as they whithered away. These grasslands were able to harness life like early primates, who, used to living in trees, were forced to adapt to life on the ground. As some of these animals evolved, some of them adopted bipedalism, making it easier for them to see predators. Homininae fossils reveal skeletal structures with straighter spines, longer legs, and thinner arms, signs that they were walking upright. They developed these straighter spines and other qualities because straighter spines and longer legs allowed for greater transportation and better speed, which was a must-have for himininae hoping to outrun large, hungry predators who were starving due to a decline in life in the vast grasslands of Africa. This new species evolved into an omnivore which, now that it could freely use two of the limbs originally used for running, began gathering food and hunting prey, adopting weapons. These skeletal progressions and new means of hunting and gathering increased the survival significantly of these beings, and the species thrived far better than any of it's early primate cousins. As these new beings evolved, they formed loose communities as opposed to packs, and eventually were able to develope a language as the mind evolved with the species. The skeletal structures of these beings show an enlarged skull, evidence that the brain was getting larger as they cooked their food and didn't need such massive jaws. Paleolithic art is evidence of a developed language and sense of community. The Blombos Caves were filled with patterened pieces of orcher dating back 70,000 years, the Venus of Willendorf, a fertility statue, is believed to be 25,000 years old, and the Hall of Bulls in the Lascaux Caves are around 20,000 years old. These sorts of art, especially Venus of Willendorf, provide evidence that early man were nomadic socieities (she is only a few inches tall) and tried to communicate with other tribes. Because she is so very round, with large breasts and child-bearing hips, she was meant to communicate the fertility of the tribe to promote relations and mating with other tribes.
It all started with an ape that learned to speak. Man’s hominid ancestors were doing well enough, even though the world had slipped into the cold grip of the ice ages. They had solved a few key problems that had held back the other branches of the ape family, such as how to find enough food to feed their rather oversized brains. Then man’s ancestors happened on the trick of language. Suddenly, a whole new mental landscape opened up. Man became self-aware and self-possessed. Physically, a deprived physical environment led to more meat-eating and, as a result, a bigger brain. The enlarged brain led to the premature birth of humans, and in consequence a protracted childhood, during which mothers cooed and crooned to their offspring. An upright stance altered the shape of the mouth and vocal tract, allowing a range of coherent sounds to be uttered. Early humans developed into what they are today because of changes in their environment that led them to the use of fire to cook food, which in turn, over a very large span of time, increased the size of the brain of these early humans.