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Humans Used Stone-Tipped Spears as Early as a Half Million Years Ago


"Views of a stone point used for hunting 500,000 years ago." Source of caption: print version of the NYT article quoted and cited below. Source of photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. D3) Human ancestors were using stone-tipped spears to hunt 500,000 years ago, 200,000 years earlier than previously thought.

A new study reports that the stone tips, found in South Africa, were probably once attached to wooden spears and then hurled at animals by hominins of the species Homo heidelbergensis.

Homo heidelbergensis was the last common ancestor of modern humans and Neanderthals, said Jayne Wilkins, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto and the study's first author. The spears "suggest that the behavioral complexity of these early humans was greater than expected," she said. Creating a stone-tipped spear would have required attaching stone to wood, handling multiple types of material at once, planning and goal-oriented behavior.

For the full story, see:

SINDYA N. BHANOO. "OBSERVATORY; When Stone Met Stick to Ease Hunters' Work." The New York Times (Tues., November 20, 2012): D3.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date November 19, 2012.)

The original Science article is:

Wilkins,  Jayne,  Benjamin J. Schoville,  Kyle S. Brown, and  Michael Chazan. "Evidence for Early Hafted Hunting Technology." Science 338, no. 6109 (16 November 2012): 942-46.

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