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Where did math come from?
Where did math come from?

In 1970, archaeologists found a hyena femur bone in France that had been jagged. At first, the researchers postponed the find, but recently the object has again attracted attention. Usually, the stripes on ancient objects are perceived as evidence of primitive art - scientists thought it was just a pattern left by some Neanderthal.

But now researchers are inclined to assume that the uneven markings were intended for memorizing the number of some objects or just for counting. Science just cannot accurately answer the question at what point in history people invented mathematics. So maybe the found bone will help you find the answer? Let's speculate on the role of numbers in nature and when people could learn to count. It seems we can come to some interesting conclusions.

What are numbers?

Scientifically speaking, number is a basic concept in mathematics that is used to number objects. Numbers are used for the written designation of numbers, and with the development of mathematics, additional designations such as the addition sign and so on appeared. In 2017, the scientific portal Cell named numbers "clearly defined entities with precise meanings that are represented in the form of words and signs."

The authors of the scientific work, the results of which were published in the scientific journal Nature, decided to focus on this definition. They decided to speculate on the origin of numbers and the find mentioned at the beginning of the article.

Mathematics in nature

Researchers began to think seriously about the origin of the account only in the XX century. In the course of numerous scientific works, they found out that many animals have basic knowledge of mathematics. For example, in 2018, scientists proved that newborn chicks understand the meanings of "little" and "a lot." They are quite capable of understanding that "2" is not enough, and "20" is a lot. But at the same time, they do not understand the difference between "20" and "22", because the gap between these numbers is too small.

Based on all this, scientists believe that the basic knowledge of mathematics is inherent in animals by evolution itself. But in animals, this knowledge is at a primitive level - for example, bees understand what zero is. And people, in the course of the evolution and development of mankind, turned mathematics into something more complex and abstract.

By themselves, numbers are not a product of nature, because scientists invented them. And this is good, because if we did not have the concept of numbers and ways to solve various problems, we would never have invented cars, rockets and other equipment.

When did mathematics appear?

If the basic knowledge of mathematics is laid down by evolution even in animals, it means that people learned to count millions of years ago. The first humanoid apes are considered to be hominids, whose age is estimated at 7 million years. Perhaps it was at that time that our ancestors began to understand the difference between "a lot" and "little".

Once our people learned how to make tools, they obviously needed numbers to count objects. Today, wild tribes with more property are better equipped to count than the less developed aborigines. Usually in wild tribes things are considered in groups of 5, 10 and 20 pieces. Most likely, this is due to the developed counting on fingers - our ancestors probably solved the first mathematical problems as small children.

Neanderthal mathematics

So what about a found hyena bone with suspicious markings? According to French researcher Francesco d'Errico, the stripes were applied to the animal's remains about 60,000 years ago. The scientist has no doubt that the author of this creation was a Neanderthal man who had a sufficiently well-developed brain to count objects. With all this, he does not deny that they will have to do a lot more research to confirm his theory.

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