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HarveyDarkey

(9,077 posts)
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 03:48 AM Nov 2013

Who Was Throwing Spears Before Humans?



Remains of the oldest known stone-tipped throwing spears, described in a new paper, are so ancient that they actually predate the earliest known fossils for our species by 85,000 years.

There are a couple possible implications, and both are mind-blowing. The first is that our species could be much older than previously thought, which would forever change the existing human family tree.

The second, and more likely at this point, is that a predecessor species to ours was extremely crafty and clever, making sophisticated tools long before Homo sapiens emerged.

Homo heidelbergensis, aka Heidelberg Man, lived in Africa, Europe and western Asia from at least 600,000 years ago. He clearly got around, and many think this species was the direct ancestor of Homo sapiens in Africa and Neanderthals in Europe and Asia.

The new paper, published in the latest PLoS ONE, focuses on the newly identified stone-tipped spears, which date to 280,000 years ago. They were found at an Ethiopian Stone Age site known as Gademotta.

http://news.discovery.com/human/evolution/stone-tipped-spears-pre-date-existence-of-humans-131113.htm?fb_action_ids=10152044497159577&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=[175275362679403]&action_type_map=[%22og.likes%22]&action_ref_map=[]
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Who Was Throwing Spears Before Humans? (Original Post) HarveyDarkey Nov 2013 OP
We are an old species, just continually evolving Warpy Nov 2013 #1
H. erectus. Spider Jerusalem Nov 2013 #2
Headline should read "MODERN Humans". greyl Nov 2013 #3
Quite correct, though not quite for the reasons you put forth Scootaloo Nov 2013 #14
... Fumesucker Nov 2013 #4
....... trusty elf Nov 2013 #5
wow ... how far back does that Tea Party gathering go? napkinz Nov 2013 #6
Looks like xCommander AWOL (R) in the back left Berlum Nov 2013 #7
He sawed off the branch of the evolutionary tree trusty elf Nov 2013 #20
Given how far removed they are from the rest of society..... AverageJoe90 Nov 2013 #8
Man, PLEASE Scootaloo Nov 2013 #15
Larry Klayman's gathering drew more participants than we were led to believe. randome Nov 2013 #10
... ProdigalJunkMail Nov 2013 #9
I was wondering how they date them, so I googled "how to date spearheads" The Straight Story Nov 2013 #11
~snort~ Fumesucker Nov 2013 #12
How can they date when the stone became the stone-tipped spear? kydo Nov 2013 #13
There's several methods, actually Scootaloo Nov 2013 #16
That's my question also Marrah_G Nov 2013 #18
Usually radiocarbon dates are gathered from the same soil layer as the artifact. Vashta Nerada Nov 2013 #24
slee-staks phantom power Nov 2013 #17
Poorly written articles like this need to be dumped Coyotl Nov 2013 #19
Thanks FarCenter Nov 2013 #22
That's interesting but maybe TexasProgresive Nov 2013 #21
What is really interesting is that scientists can tell the differnce between throwing and thrusting FarCenter Nov 2013 #23

Warpy

(110,507 posts)
1. We are an old species, just continually evolving
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 03:53 AM
Nov 2013

It doesn't surprise me a bit that earlier hominids were shaping stones to use for hunting, butchering, and cleaning hides. I'm betting the useful rocks go back the whole 3.5 million years since we came down out of the trees.

Chimps have been known to use stones as tools, although I doubt they shape them. They just pick up likely rocks and go to work. That's likely what our earliest ancestors did and why we find so few early stone tools.

 

Spider Jerusalem

(21,786 posts)
2. H. erectus.
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 03:53 AM
Nov 2013

Or some other extinct hominid. And speciation doesn't work in such a way that you can really draw a line and say "this is H. sapiens" and "this is H. erectus" when there's a sort of transitional period of evolution where there are hominids which exhibit characteristics of both (speciation being something that generally happens in a geographically isolated population subjected to different evolutionary pressures and random genetic drift relative to its parent species).

 

Scootaloo

(25,699 posts)
14. Quite correct, though not quite for the reasons you put forth
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 07:07 AM
Nov 2013
Homo sapiens has been around for five hundred thousand years or so. "Modern" humans is actually a division within our own species, representing those H. sapiens who have existed within the last fifty thousand years of that period. Before that, you have "archaic" H. sapiens.

This is just our own species, and does not include others, such as Neandertals, H. erectus, or H. heidelbergensis, all of which are known to have been intelligent tool-users who predate H. sapiens entirely.

Who made this spear point? "Archaic" humans, most likely or one of those other three. Anthropologically speaking, it simply muddles the distinction between archaic and modern a little more, which really, isn't really a distinction ANYWAY, since if you were there at the time, you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference.
 

AverageJoe90

(10,745 posts)
8. Given how far removed they are from the rest of society.....
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 06:32 AM
Nov 2013

they might as well br truly descended from bonafide primates; after all, all they do is sling poop and screech erratically & nonsensically at everything they see, right?

 

Scootaloo

(25,699 posts)
15. Man, PLEASE
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 07:10 AM
Nov 2013

Look at them. Those dudes in the back are bringing home food, the lady on the left is making some tools, the woman next to her is inventing the shot put... these are productive members of society, how dare you compare them to the tea party. Hell, they're even better dressers!

 

randome

(34,845 posts)
10. Larry Klayman's gathering drew more participants than we were led to believe.
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 06:43 AM
Nov 2013

[hr][font color="blue"][center]There is nothing you can't do if you put your mind to it.
Nothing.
[/center][/font][hr]

The Straight Story

(48,121 posts)
11. I was wondering how they date them, so I googled "how to date spearheads"
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 06:52 AM
Nov 2013

A page full of links to Britney Spears. Sad, but funny.

kydo

(2,679 posts)
13. How can they date when the stone became the stone-tipped spear?
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 07:00 AM
Nov 2013

The stone dates back to 280,000 years ago but the important question is when was it made into the tool? Just wondering ....

 

Scootaloo

(25,699 posts)
16. There's several methods, actually
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 07:19 AM
Nov 2013

The easiest is simply by noting the age of the strata where the tool was found. This works best in caves, of course, where hte tool isn't being washed out and scattered.

Some stones, such as the obsidian we see here, can be dated by lithic hydration; obsidian absorbs water from the air at a constant and measurable rate. This produces a sort of "rind" around the surface of the stone, past which there is less than 1% water. The depth of the hydrated surface layer works like the rings of a tree, letting us know how long this tool's surface has been explosed to air - since these tools are usually produced from the core of a stone, ratehr than the stone's outer surface, we can get pretty accurate with this.

There are also a variety of isotope measurements, and i think flint can be dated by the effect light has on it in a manner similar to obsidian hydration.

We can' tell when it was hafted, and only the design tells us it was (that's definitely not a shape you want to hold in your hand with any amount of pressure - obsidian is sharp!)

 

Vashta Nerada

(3,922 posts)
24. Usually radiocarbon dates are gathered from the same soil layer as the artifact.
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 11:37 AM
Nov 2013

and those are used to date the artifact. That's how we dated some of the projectile points at the site I'm working at. Isotope analysis is another way archaeological dating can be done.

Seriation can also be used, but it's not as accurate as a dating method. It gives one a "ballpark" figure.

TexasProgresive

(12,133 posts)
21. That's interesting but maybe
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 10:30 AM
Nov 2013

These predated Homo heidelbergensis, Hermaphrodite Sea Slug Stabs Mate in Head During Sex
http://www.democraticunderground.com/122824603

I'm sorry but I just read the post about the sea slug before reading yours.

 

FarCenter

(19,429 posts)
23. What is really interesting is that scientists can tell the differnce between throwing and thrusting
Wed Nov 20, 2013, 11:35 AM
Nov 2013

Fracture analysis can distinguish between those caused by slow versus high velocity impacts.

So this is the earliest projectile point for throwing spears, although thrusting spears are much older.

The evolution of shoulder anatomy for throwing is even older, so I suppose that throwing rock and pebbles predates both.

Being able to kill at a distance beyond arm's length is a valuable skill.

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