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Fri Nov 15, 2013, 10:02 AM

Stone-tipped spears predate human existence by 85,000 yrs

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

There are a few 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 ofHomo 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.

Sahle, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at Berkeley’s Human Evolution Research Center, and his team analyzed the weapons. They determined that the spears were made from obsidian found near the site. The toolmakers had to craft the pointy spearhead

http://zeenews.india.com/news/science/stone-tipped-spears-predate-human-existence-by-85-000-yrs_889825.html


I could have given you a fox news link but chose this instead .... its the real deal though.


http://www.plosone.org/
This was assembly line work which tells me we are missing a significant part of our history and development.

They appear to be throwing spears not jabbing spears which Neanderthals used which means it is even more advanced.

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Reply Stone-tipped spears predate human existence by 85,000 yrs (Original post)
Ichingcarpenter Nov 2013 OP
pipoman Nov 2013 #1
Ichingcarpenter Nov 2013 #2
Coyotl Nov 2013 #4
Ichingcarpenter Nov 2013 #6
Coyotl Nov 2013 #3
Ichingcarpenter Nov 2013 #5
WowSeriously Nov 2013 #8
AtheistCrusader Nov 2013 #7
Spitfire of ATJ Nov 2013 #14
Coyotl Nov 2013 #17
qazplm Nov 2013 #25
Coyotl Nov 2013 #27
jeff47 Nov 2013 #16
eShirl Nov 2013 #24
qazplm Nov 2013 #26
greiner3 Nov 2013 #9
Ichingcarpenter Nov 2013 #11
Ghost Dog Nov 2013 #20
Coyotl Nov 2013 #10
Ichingcarpenter Nov 2013 #12
JimboBillyBubbaBob Nov 2013 #28
starroute Nov 2013 #13
gcomeau Nov 2013 #15
Coyotl Nov 2013 #18
starroute Nov 2013 #30
Demo_Chris Nov 2013 #19
Ghost Dog Nov 2013 #21
Demo_Chris Nov 2013 #22
AverageJoe90 Nov 2013 #23
Coyotl Nov 2013 #29
NickB79 Nov 2013 #31
Marrah_G Nov 2013 #32

Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 10:22 AM

1. No Photos...

 

there is a complete science based on stone tool, and more specifically stone point design. For instance, the oldest point design in North America to date is known as "clovis" points:



There are points found on other continents which very closely resemble clovis and Dalton designs found in North America..I find this fascinating..even when we look at stone "knapping" technique (the flaking of stone to produce a sharp edge and sculpt stone tools), it is unbelievable to me that two or more pre-historic cultures divided by vast oceans could be using the exact same technique for tool production..

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Response to pipoman (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 10:24 AM

2. There are photos at the Fox site

I just hate to link to them.

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Response to pipoman (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 10:37 AM

4. There are points thousands of years older than Clovis in the Americas.

 

Clovis is the oldest recognized, continentally-distributed point style.

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Response to Coyotl (Reply #4)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 10:46 AM

6. The points in the fox link

look awfully advanced vs the usual hand axe points from that era.


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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 10:35 AM

3. Important to remember: No woman has ever given birth to a member of a different species.

 

Species is a human concept and not a reality. All of life is one continuous organism and humans create mental categories to understand it.

Species do not "emerge" and never will. Individuals have offspring, nothing more. "We" have been making stone-tipped spear longer than previously known, that's all. Call you ancestors by whatever name you like, the family tree remains unaltered, same mothers had the same children as before, all of their own species.

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Response to Coyotl (Reply #3)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 10:43 AM

5. As the great scientist, statesman and intellectual said

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." --Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 10:56 AM

8. The missing link himself! Well played. Well played indeed.

 

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Response to Coyotl (Reply #3)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 10:54 AM

7. Not necessarily accurate.

Our species' progression isn't a linear line, there are offshoots that arose, developed, spread, and failed. Homo sapiens sapiens arose separately, and in some cases interbred with them, but we share a common ancestor, rather than followed them in a linear progression behind the Neanderthals, for instance.

It is entirely possible that some of the other offshoots from some of our common ancestors developed tools/capabilities, as far as they could before succumbing to whatever condition wiped them out, whether it be environmental, or a competing species.


Species boundaries can get fuzzy sometimes, but it has real, functional meaning. Ask any mule.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #7)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 11:51 AM

14. The way humanity has been clobbered by pandemics it could have been the flu.

 

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #7)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 01:02 PM

17. Homo erectus left African with flaked hand axes about 2 million years ago.

 

Stone flaking and making points is as old as our ancestral hominids leaving Africa. Hafted spears is a later invention.

Species are mental distinctions for real differences. Where one species ends and the subsequent lineage begins is the arbitrary factor introduced long after a mother of the first species didn't ever have a baby of the second species. Meanwhile, the gene poll was all the while complex and all the while impacted by culture, geography, and climate.

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Response to Coyotl (Reply #17)

Sat Nov 16, 2013, 11:07 AM

25. it's not arbitrary

it may not be smooth, but it is not arbitrary at all.

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Response to qazplm (Reply #25)

Sat Nov 16, 2013, 11:16 AM

27. To the mother and child it would seem arbitrary to be informed they are not the same species.

 

On that scale it is arbitrary. Also, given the incredibly miniscule amount of evidence for what was an ever-complex gene pool populating much of the habitable earth, the randomness of the evidence is itself an arbitration factor.

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Response to Coyotl (Reply #3)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 12:47 PM

16. Mares that give birth to Mules say "Hi". (nt)

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Response to jeff47 (Reply #16)

Sat Nov 16, 2013, 10:55 AM

24. Mares that give birth to mules that reproduce say "".

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Response to eShirl (Reply #24)

Sat Nov 16, 2013, 11:08 AM

26. Ouch, this hurts!?

.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 10:59 AM

9. From Wiki;

 

"Both H. antecessor and H. heidelbergensis are likely to be descended from the morphologically very similar Homo ergaster from Africa. But because H. heidelbergensis had a larger brain-case — with a typical cranial volume of 1100–1400 cm³ overlapping the 1350 cm³ average of modern humans — and had more advanced tools and behavior, it has been given a separate species classification. Male heidelbergensis averaged about 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m) tall and 136 lb (62 kg). Females averaged 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m) and 112 lb (51 kg).[4] A reconstruction of 27 complete human limb bones found in Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain) has helped to determine the height of H. heidelbergensis compared to Homo neanderthalensis, the conclusion was that most H. heidelbergensis averaged about 170 cm (5 ft 7in) in height and were only slightly taller than neanderthals.[5] According to Lee R. Berger of the University of Witwatersrand, numerous fossil bones indicate some populations of Heidelbergensis were "giants" routinely over 2.13 m (7 ft) tall and inhabited South Africa between 500,000 and 300,000 years ago.[6]"

"Some experts[8] believe that H. heidelbergensis, like its descendant H. neandertalensis, acquired a primitive form of language. No forms of art or sophisticated artifacts other than stone tools have been uncovered, although red ochre, a mineral that can be used to create a red pigment which is useful as a paint, has been found at Terra Amata excavations in the south of France."

"Some believe that H. heidelbergensis is a distinct species, and some that it is a cladistic ancestor to other Homo forms sometimes improperly linked to distinct species in terms of populational genetics.[who?][citation needed]"

From my Anthropology 101 class, the only one I took, the prof said H. sapiens was a direct descendant of H. heidelbergensis as were the Neanderthals (.

What's interesting is that the Neanderthals also had a cranial capacity larger than H. sapiens.

It is also believed that H. sapiens evolved AFTER they migrated to Africa and after their trek north may have contributed to the Neanderthals' extinction.

Or not.

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Response to greiner3 (Reply #9)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 11:24 AM

11. I've mentioned heidelbergensis before

in other threads as an enigma in the schema of human development.

It wasn't said in the articles I can find on this discovery if his bones were found nearby. Could this imply that it could be homo sapiens but our dating on his development was wrong?

We've only seen stone hand axes from heidelbergensis before. Maybe the South African discovery of modern man 200,000 yrs ago is inaccurate.

These new finds are always exciting and controversial

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Response to greiner3 (Reply #9)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 01:31 PM

20. No artwork that we've found until much later:

The earliest such art in Europe dates back to the Aurignacian period, approximately 40,000 years ago, and is found in the El Castillo cave in Cantabria, Spain...

... Cave paintings found at the Apollo 11 cave in Namibia are estimated to date from approximately 23,000–25,000 BCE...

... Significant early cave paintings have been found in Kakadu, Australia. Ochre is not an organic material, so carbon dating of these pictures is often impossible. Sometimes the approximate date, or at least, an epoch, can be surmised from the painting content, contextual artifacts, or organic material intentionally or inadvertently mixed with the inorganic ochre paint, including torch soot.[2]

A red ochre painting discovered at the centre of the Arnhem Land plateau depicts two emu-like birds with their necks outstretched. They have been identified by a palaeontologist as depicting the megafauna species Genyornis, giant birds thought to have become extinct more than 40,000 years ago; however, this evidence is inconclusive for dating. It may merely suggest that Genyornis became extinct at a later date than previously determined.[12]

The Whitsunday Islands are also home to a surprising number of cave paintings. The cave paintings by the seafaring Ngaro people on Hook Island, Australia, are remarkable for their non-figurative, non-representational, or abstract content. Their significance is a mystery...

... The Bhimbetka rock shelters exhibit the earliest traces of human life in India; a number of analyses suggest that some of these shelters were inhabited by humans for more than 100,000 years. The earliest paintings on the cave walls are believed to be of the Mesolithic period, dating to 30,000 years ago...

... In Indonesia the caves at Maros in Sulawesi are famous for their hand prints. About 1500 negative handprints have also been found in 30 painted caves in the Sangkulirang area of Kalimantan; preliminary dating analysis puts their age in the range of 10,000 years old.[30][31]

The Padah-Lin Caves of Burma contain 11,000-year-old paintings and many rock tools...

/... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_painting

[center][/center]

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 11:02 AM

10. Terrible pop article! For the real science, the entire journal article here:

 


Earliest Stone-Tipped Projectiles from the Ethiopian Rift Date to >279,000 Years Ago
Sahle, et.al. Nov 13, 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078092
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0078092

The points in question are depicted, large files available.
Abstract

Projectile weapons (i.e. those delivered from a distance) enhanced prehistoric hunting efficiency by enabling higher impact delivery and hunting of a broader range of animals while reducing confrontations with dangerous prey species. Projectiles therefore provided a significant advantage over thrusting spears. Composite projectile technologies are considered indicative of complex behavior and pivotal to the successful spread of Homo sapiens. Direct evidence for such projectiles is thus far unknown from >80,000 years ago. Data from velocity-dependent microfracture features, diagnostic damage patterns, and artifact shape reported here indicate that pointed stone artifacts from Ethiopia were used as projectile weapons (in the form of hafted javelin tips) as early as >279,000 years ago. In combination with the existing archaeological, fossil and genetic evidence, these data isolate eastern Africa as a source of modern cultures and biology.

............

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Response to Coyotl (Reply #10)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 11:26 AM

12. I gave that link in my OP

but thanks for pointing it out again for further in depth analysis for others .

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Response to Coyotl (Reply #10)

Sat Nov 16, 2013, 11:20 AM

28. Thanks for the link.

I must leave now to finish reading the journal article.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 11:42 AM

13. The real answer may be that the DNA "molecular clock" is wrong

There's been a lot of evidence accumulating to that effect over the last couple of years. The archaeology and the DNA just aren't matching up -- and it's starting to seem that the DNA dates should be roughly twice as old as the standard values. Part of the problem may be that the DNA people have been assuming genes change more rapidly than they actually do, and the other part is that they've been figuring the average length of a generation as only 20 years, which is way too short.

One of the big discrepancies has been that an increasing amount of archaeological evidence indicates humans moved out of Africa around 125,000 years ago and gradually spread further east. But the DNA dates suggest that all non-Africans have a common ancestor only about 50,000 years ago, or maybe 70,000 at most. This leads to a very contorted story where some humans reach the Middle East, then completely die out, and then a second bunch shows up and spreads explosively to everywhere from Australia to Europe within just a few thousand years.

A comprehensive recent study of fossils also suggests that modern humans and Neanderthals diverged about 1 million years ago, rather than the 450,000 year figure derived from DNA studies. (http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/09012013/article/last-common-ancestor-of-neanderthals-and-modern-humans-still-a-mystery)

Roughly doubling the conventional dates would fix both those problems. It would also move the origin of our species back from 200,000 years ago to something more like 400,000 years, which would fit perfectly well with those stone-tipped spears.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 12:45 PM

15. Sigh...

 

There are a few 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.


Why the hell is the second possibility "mind blowing"? The first thing I though when I read the headline was "So? Who would find it surprising that homo erectus could make a freaking spear?"

Just a typical need by the writer putting out the article to over-hype the implications of something.


http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/nov/15/stone-spear-early-human-species

This is hardly new or "mind blowing" information as the article writer might have people believe.

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Response to gcomeau (Reply #15)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 01:06 PM

18. A significant science article was published today, and all I got was this Zee News.

 

... and, all I got was this Tee Shirt.

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Response to gcomeau (Reply #15)

Sun Nov 17, 2013, 12:54 PM

30. The point is that they were throwing spears, not spears for jabbing

Neanderthals have been found to have a pattern of shoulder fractures that suggests they walked right up to whatever they were hunting, jabbed a spear in, and then hung on for dear life.

Throwing spears are far more sophisticated. They require an attention to straightness and balance if they're to be hurled accurately. They may even imply the use of an atlatl to increase the power and distance of the throw.

So yes, it is a big deal. And as I suggested above, the most likely explanation is that the DNA molecular clock is wrong and our own species goes back something like 400,000 years rather than a mere 200,000.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 01:09 PM

19. Science Question...

 

Simply put:

In terms of intellectual capacity, problem solving ability, imagination and what not, how different is the homo sapiens of today from the homo sapiens of, say, a hundred-thousand years ago?

Or, rather, what is the sceintific concensus?

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Response to Demo_Chris (Reply #19)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 01:44 PM

21. The development of cultures

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Response to Ghost Dog (Reply #21)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 03:01 PM

22. I am not sure how this addresses the question...

 

That is: just how intelligent were these people compared to us.

For example, if it were possible to travel in time, snatch an infant from a hundred thousand years ago and return with it, how would that infant compare to an infant born last week. Would the time travelling infant raised alongside a contemporary infant be similar to the contempory one in terms of potential?

I understand that this is probably somewhat unknowable, but it's always been something that I am curious about.

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Fri Nov 15, 2013, 10:18 PM

23. TBH, the actual most likely explanation for the finding......

 

is probably just that our own species is older than we first thought, and not due to this predecessor or whatever.

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Response to AverageJoe90 (Reply #23)

Sat Nov 16, 2013, 12:10 PM

29. is less interesting than the implication of how little evidence we have of the remote past.

 

Stone-tipped spears that long ago makes sense within the hand ax timeline of 2 million years, we just did not have this bit of evidence and applied research to replace the unknown.

Baseballs, no surprise to Darwinians, fit this timeline better now too

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Response to Ichingcarpenter (Original post)

Mon Nov 18, 2013, 01:49 AM

31. We all know the true answer to this

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Response to NickB79 (Reply #31)

Mon Nov 18, 2013, 10:18 AM

32. Oh good, I wasn't the only one who immediately thoguht of the hair guy ":)

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