It's time for Question of the Week and this week Lucka Bibic has been looking back in time with this question...

    Kat: - Hey, scientists. This is Kat from Kansas City, Missouri. I was reading a Gary Larson comics the other day and noticed all the cavemen had silly names, and it got me wondering, did cavemen even have names? When did human beings start naming themselves?

    Lucka - We asked you what you thought on Facebook. Alejandro wrote.

    Alejandro - Did you suppose the first name was an insult? Lucka - And Andrew thinks.

    Andrew - I think early humans were given name to their young out of affection rather than necessarily like we do today.

    Lucka - To get to the bottom of this caveman mystery, I enlisted the help of linguist Professor Shigaru Miyagawa, from MIT. But first what do we mean by cavemen?

    Shigaru - The thing to keep in mind is that the idea of cavemen is for the most part fiction that was created by popular culture. It's based on things that appear to be real. A lot of things have discovered in caves like paintings and artefacts with symbols. But the image of them hunting alongside dinosaurs for example is a romantic fiction of evolution.

    Lucka - Got you. So, let's step away from the caveman like Fred Flintstone and look instead at our own species, homo sapiens. How did we first start to communicate with each other?

    Shigaru - I think a lot of theories actually you could imagine. One theory says that communicated in single words just like monkeys. Some monkeys have a single word system like snake, leopard, and eagle to let the others know that a predator, like a leopard, is nearby. Another theory which is by Charles Darwin says that pre-humans communicated by singing just like birds. He observed that bird song is the nearest in origin to human language. And birds sing to attract mates. So maybe our ancestors communicated this desire to mate by singing. Which of these is true, a single word system or singing? Well, we don't really know because language doesn't fossilise. Actually, what I think is that both were probably true. Our ancestors communicated in words to warn others of a prey in the vicinity and singing to attract mate.

    Lucka - This singing could have been an early framework for things like grammar and the early start of language. But back to the original question, when did names come along?

    Shigaru - Human language appeared only recently. Some say about 100,000 years ago. That was around the time that Homo sapiens were migrating out of east Africa into the Eurasian continent. They were hunter-gatherers. Once farming became possible, around 10,000, maybe 12,000 years ago, you had more fixed roles in a larger community of people. So, you had to come up with a way to distinguish individuals. That's when you started to assign names. Certainly, the origin of human language in evolution is one of the great mysteries of science.

    Lucka - The best we can do without a time machine. Thanks, Shigaro. Next week, we will be scanning the horizon to answer Loot's question.

    Loot - How did the moon get its markings?

    When did humans have names?
    The first recorded name given in an actual writing system can be found on clay tablets dating from the Jemdet Nasr period in Sumeria between 3200 and 3101 BC. more
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    In the medical literature, the term "stool" is more commonly used than "feces". Human feces together with human urine are collectively referred to as human waste or human excreta. more
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    Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff Sr. The longest personal name is 747 characters long, and belongs to Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff Sr. (b. 4 August 1914, Germany) who passed away on 24 October 1997, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA, as verified on 1 January 2021. more
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    The First Humans One of the earliest known humans is Homo habilis, or “handy man,” who lived about 2.4 million to 1.4 million years ago in Eastern and Southern Africa. more
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    Both Dua and Lipa made the cut. You can learn a lot about what's going on in the world based on what people are naming their babies. more
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    Sophia Hanson Robotics' most advanced human-like robot, Sophia, personifies our dreams for the future of AI. more
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    Top Names Over the Last 100 Years more
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    the stapes Once there, the sound waves vibrate three bones known as the ossicles, which are made up of the malleus, the incus, and the stapes. The stapes is the smallest bone in the human body. more
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    Adam is the name given in Genesis 1-5 to the first human. more
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    Who is Vincent Afton? Vincent Afton the 2nd (referred to as « The Purple Man » by the animatronics) is a major antagonist of the Five Nights at Freddy's franchise. more
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    Region. A region is an area defined by common characteristics. Geographers often divide the world into regions or areas, based on physical features (land, plant) and human (government, language) characteristics than differences. more

    Source: www.thenakedscientists.com

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