Los Angeles Times

Evolve or die: Why our ancestors learned to be social more than 320,000 years ago

New discoveries in eastern Africa suggest that human behaviors like symbolic thought and the creation of extended social networks were established at least 320,000 years ago - tens of thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

The work, published as a trio of papers Thursday in Science, sheds new light on the often murky story of when our ancestors first started acting like humans, and why, experts said.

"What we are seeing is a complex set of developments that may represent new ways of surviving in an unpredictable environment," said Rick Potts, a paleoanthropologist and director of the Smithsonian's Human Origins program. "It is a package we didn't know occurred so early, and right at

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