Culture, Genes, and the Human Revolution

  title={Culture, Genes, and the Human Revolution},
  author={Simon E. Fisher and Matthew Ridley},
  pages={929 - 930}
Genetic evolution may have been driven by cultural innovations during the emergence of modern humans. State-of-the-art DNA sequencing is providing ever more detailed insights into the genomes of humans, extant apes, and even extinct hominins (1–3), offering unprecedented opportunities to uncover the molecular variants that make us human. A common assumption is that the emergence of behaviorally modern humans after 200,000 years ago required—and followed—a specific biological change triggered by… 

Worldwide genetic and cultural change in human evolution.

The Role of Culture and Evolution for Human Cognition

Taking advantage of this reorientation presupposes a shift in focus, though, from human cognition as a general, homogenous phenomenon to the appreciation of cultural diversity in cognition as an invaluable source of data.

The Nature of Culture: an eight-grade model for the evolution and expansion of cultural capacities in hominins and other animals.

It is concluded that there is not a single cultural capacity or a single set of abilities that enabled human culture; rather, several grades of cultural capacity in animals and hominins expanded during their evolution to shape who the authors are today.

Epigenetically facilitated mutational assimilation: epigenetics as a hub within the inclusive evolutionary synthesis

Epicetics appears as a hub by which non‐genetically inherited environmentally induced variation in traits can become genetically encoded over generations, in a form of epigenetically facilitated mutational assimilation.

An Updated Evolutionary Research Programme for the Evolution of Language

It will be argued that the four points mentioned above prove to be fundamental explanatory tools to understand how language might have emerged as a result of a gene-culture coevolutionary dynamics.

Ecology in an anthropogenic biosphere

A general causal theory is presented to explain why human societies gained the capacity to globally alter the patterns, processes, and dynamics of ecology and how these anthropogenic alterations unfold over time and space as societies themselves change over human generational time.

Integrative and Separationist Perspectives: Understanding the Causal Role of Cultural Transmission in Human Language Evolution

It is argued that current evidence coming from the archaeological and fossil record suggests that cultural evolution has played a pivotal role in shaping not only modern language but also the language-ready brain, providing reasons in favor of the eco-evolutionary feedback dynamics underlying the integrative perspective.

Exploring the Psychological basis for Transitions in the Archaeological Record

This chapter attempts to ground the theory of cultural evolution in terms of cognitive transitions as suggested by archaeological evidence, and incorporates new research and elaborates a genetic component to the overall argument.


Fire, cooking food, group life have transformed the environment around us, making it more permissive, relaxing natural selection, so allowing the affirmation of costly adaptations such as neoteny (the retention of juvenile traits in adults, the authors' developmental secret) and articulated language.



How culture shaped the human genome: bringing genetics and the human sciences together

The considerable potential for cross-disciplinary exchange is highlighted to provide novel insights into how culture has shaped the human genome, supported by recent analyses of human genetic variation, which reveal that hundreds of genes have been subject to recent positive selection.

Human brain evolution: transcripts, metabolites and their regulators

This Review shows how a strategy to focus on human-specific changes at the level of intermediate phenotypes in conjunction with evolutionary changes in gene regulation involving transcription factors, microRNA and proximal regulatory elements has yielded some of the first hints about the mechanisms of human cognition.

Genetic basis of human brain evolution

Rethinking the human revolution : new behavioural and biological perspectives on the origin and dispersal of modern humans

Arising from a conference Rethinking the Human Revolution reconsiders all of the central issues in modern human behavioural, cognitive, biological and demographic origins in the light of new

A High-Coverage Genome Sequence from an Archaic Denisovan Individual

The genomic sequence provides evidence for very low rates of heterozygosity in the Denisova, probably not because of recent inbreeding, but instead because of a small population size, and illuminates the relationships between humans and archaics, including Neandertals, and establishes a catalog of genetic changes within the human lineage.

Molecular evolution of FOXP2, a gene involved in speech and language

It is shown that human FOXP2 contains changes in amino-acid coding and a pattern of nucleotide polymorphism, which strongly suggest that this gene has been the target of selection during recent human evolution.

A recent evolutionary change affects a regulatory element in the human FOXP2 gene.

It is found that the derived allele of this site is less efficient than the ancestral allele in activating transcription from a reporter construct, and is a plausible candidate for having caused a recent selective sweep in the FOXP2 gene.

A forkhead-domain gene is mutated in a severe speech and language disorder

It is suggested that the gene FOXP2, which encodes a putative transcription factor containing a polyglutamine tract and a forkhead DNA-binding domain, is involved in the developmental process that culminates in speech and language.

An aetiological Foxp2 mutation causes aberrant striatal activity and alters plasticity during skill learning

In vivo recordings in awake-behaving mice uncovered abnormally high ongoing striatal activity in mice carrying an identical mutation to that of the KE family, indicating that FOXP2 is critical for the function of striatal circuits in vivo, which are important not only for speech but also for other striatal-dependent skills.