Born in abundance?
In the light of Stuart's talk I've been ruminating on some of the upshots. The story so far is that having heard and discussed Knight's theories (relayed in the link) I'm not convinced but I don't think they are beyond the pale and at least need treating seriously. That's by the by.
In another piece, I recall, Stuart discussed the costs of communication - that animals can compete symbollically by investing energy and effort into communication - and so all communication requires, if you like, a gold standard of cost to back up its worth. For example, biologists define altruiism as not attacking forst, humans are a species where we greet with a handshake - not only are we not attacking first, but deliberately revealing our weaponlessness and leaving ourselves open to attack. That requires a great deal of trust.
However - the cost theory of communication is based on the malthusian (non-derogatory) underpinnings of Darwinism - that all beings everywhere are scraping by in subsistence because all species will breed to the limits of their niche (and beyond) - if a species doesn't, another one will.
If, though, we suppose a species that found itself in a new niche - possibly a unique niche where others couldn't follow - and one where it biologically could not breed to fill (because, say, it was a slowly maturing species that produced few babies) then we can posit a species existing not in scarcity, but in abundance.
If it is unable to breed to fill the niche, all it can do is consume more and improve the chances of its small numbers of surviving.
Perhaps, much like physics has problems where it's laws break down at the begining, the Darwinian account of human evolution must break the underlying Malthusian premises - humans are not subject to Malthus now (I'd argue), perhaps we were born in that escape.
Briefly, you could model this as humans as scavengers - the best in the game chasing other scavengers away with stones (hand axes?) - a low investment reward rich startegy in which the immense surplus energy could go to feeding brains and social symbollic pressure to develop coalition consciousness. Which in turn could be teh basis for a meme explosion.