Top 10 innovations in human communication

From cave paintings to the internet, homo sapiens—and our thick-browed forebears—have worked to develop new means of conveying information and opinions.

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Communication predates human speech, and our early ancestors found ways to land their message.

Over the millennia, grunting and pointing have evolved—for the most part, anyway—into more sophisticated modes of expression.

Along the way, inventions and innovations have sprouted in fertile minds.

Here, then, is a completely subjective—yet excruciatingly authoritative—list of the top 10 advances in human (or Cro-Magnon) communication, and how their relatives live on today:

10. Pantomime. Acting out the pursuit of or by other animals was essential to pre-verbal communication, as it enabled Gronk and his immediate family to gain sustenance and avoid danger. It developed into such forms as theater, ballet and silent films, as well as the artistry of Marcel Marceau. It also gave rise to lesser-talented street mimes and the party game of Charades.

9. Pens and pencils. Gronk’s descendants discerned that charred wood could leave a mark, even a straight or curved line. That discovery would later come in handy. Its progeny, pencils and pens—quills, fountain pens, ballpoints and so on—provided precision in conveying ideas to help deepen our understanding of the world. (That is, until a Sharpie fell into the wrong hands.)

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