Ancient tools push back human evolution

2012-11-22 12:40
This photo shows Western Stemmed Projectiles discovered in the Paisley Caves near Paisley, Oregon. (Jim Barlow, University of Oregon, AP)

This photo shows Western Stemmed Projectiles discovered in the Paisley Caves near Paisley, Oregon. (Jim Barlow, University of Oregon, AP)

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Cape Town - Spear tips found in South Africa suggest that early human ancestors were far more advanced than previously thought.

According to a report in National Geographic, the stone spear tips are estimated to be around 500 000 years old, nearly double the established age for the technology.

According to researchers, the spear tip which comes from Homo heidelbergensis site is remarkable and paleoanthropologist John Shea said it was "like finding an iPod in a Roman Empire site".

The technology to create a stone spear tip and attach it to a wooden shaft was deemed to be too advanced for H. Heidelbergensis because it involved several steps and advanced planning.

The age of the spear tip, if confirmed, also proves that language was advanced among the early human ancestors.

"It would probably not be something that could be taught by imitation. This is a technology that is so complex that it absolutely, positively requires language," said Shea of New York's Stony Brook University.

The spear tip connected to the shaft would have created a far more efficient weapon for hunting, giving the species a distinct advantage.

According to the author of the spear tip study, University of Toronto anthropologist Jayne Wilkins, the spear would "cause a lot more damage, create more bleeding, and cause the animal to die quicker".

While the exact date is yet to be confirmed, researchers speculated that the construction of the spear tip allows for the possibility that the ancient human ancestor was able to tool various items that were essential to survival and mating.
Read more on:    science  |  environment

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