When I saw the news story about the fraction signs of Linear A, the cuneiform writing system of ancient Minoans, I felt inspired to go looking for the origins of mathematics. I.e., I was asksing myself: where was the transition when natural abilities that you might also find in other animals led to calculating, book keeping, and the whole culture of mathematics that we have today.? I didn't really find that magic spark moment, but I still learned lots of interesting things about different cultures deal with numbers, and how scientists are debating the numerical (or just quantical) skills found in some animals.
The feature is out now:
Are numbers in our nature?
Current Biology Volume 30, Issue 21, 2 November 2020, Pages R1283-R1285
Restricted access to full text and PDF download
(will become open access again one year after publication)
Magic link for free access
(first seven weeks only)
Animals from insects to primates can distinguish quantities, but their processing is different from the arithmetic we learn in school. (Photo: Luca Ambrosi/Unsplash.)