An analysis of semiotic and mimetic processes in Australopithecus afarensis

  • Jenny Michlich


The underlying semiotic structures of communicative processes involving spoken language vocalizations and gesturing are analyzed in order to contribute to the interdisciplinary discussion on human cognitive-semiotic evolution. Peircean semiotics and mimesis theory are used as tools in the analysis of evidence from comparative neuroscience and primatology. Based on this, I propose the presence of indexical, iconic and possibly even (proto)symbolic communication in the cultures occupied by Australopithecus afarensis, preceding the evolution of the first species in our genus. The discussion shows the potentials of a cognitive semiotics to integrate concepts and methods from the Natural Sciences and the Humanities.

Author Biography

Jenny Michlich

Jenny Michlich is an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh studying Anthropology, the History and Philosophy of Science, and Neuroscience. She is also attending the University of Colorado Colorado Springs Extended Studies Program completing an undergraduate certificate in Cognitive Archaeology. Jenny has an interest in cognitive evolution, speech, and language evolution, approached from perspectives in cognitive semiotics, evolutionary anthropology and neuroscience. She currently holds a position as a Research Assistant at Magee-Womens Research Institute and Foundation, as well as a Research Assistant position in the Helou Laboratory for Vocal Systems Anatomy and Physiology Research at the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorder, headed by Professor Leah B. Helou.