By Celia Deane-Drummond
Delving into the deep past in order to help understand the present implies that there are, to a degree at least, anthropological constants about what makes us human. Evolutionary anthropology is helpful as it brings insights into how and in what circumstances humanity’s fascination with tool use emerged. Newer evolutionary theories such as the extended evolutionary synthesis theory recovers the importance of agency in evolutionary philosophy. Instead of understanding creatures as just being subject to the random walk of Darwinian natural selection, an agent makes choices about where to live, who to associate with etc. that enables that individual to be acted upon by different evolutionarily significant environments. To put it bluntly: Homo sapiens moving out of Africa into cold or extreme climates evolved in a different way compared with staying put.