Weapons Made Us Human

San Bushman rock art Perdekop Farm North of Mossel bayThis might just explain why we all can’t get along. Lewis Page writes at The Register:

Boffins investigating a find of ancient stone blades over 70 thousand years old argue that it was possession of advanced ranged weapons – and the organisation to make and use them – which allowed humanity to defeat its early rivals and spread out to conquer the world.

The small stone microlith blades in question were found at a site named Pinnacle Point in Mossel Bay, South Africa. They were complicated to make, with the stone having to be heat treated with fire so that it would flake properly and could then be fashioned to give a sharp edge down one side and a blunt back on the other. This allowed them to be glued onto a wooden shaft, creating a deadly yet lightweight spear.

The investigating boffins believe that such spears would have been hurled by their cunning human creators using atlatls – spear-thrower devices which extend the reach of the human arm and permit a javelin-style weapon to be flung with much greater force than is possible with the unaided limb. It’s thought that our great rivals for control of planet Earth – the Neanderthals – could only make relatively heavy spearheads unsuitable for use at any distance.

“When Africans left Africa and entered Neanderthal territory they had projectiles with greater killing reach,” explains Professor Curtis Marean, an expert in stone weapons who was instrumental in the research…

[continues at The Register]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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6 Comments on "Weapons Made Us Human"

  1. namvetted68 | Nov 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm |

    And here I thought is was the ability to cook that separated us from our simian ancestors and allowed us to lose the monkey gut which made us more mobile, erectile, and sapiens.

    • You need to be able to hunt and kill things, who are nearly all faster and more agile than humans, before you can cook them.

      • kowalityjesus | Nov 9, 2012 at 3:41 am |

        Physiology suggests that our intended diet per longevity of evolutionary circumstance is roots and fruits. Secondarily meat/fish, with a far third being cereal crops. This follows the “rise” of civilization, according to the accepted paleontological model.

        Therefore, was leaving the life of lounging and browsing fruit trees and pursuing a kill the point at which simians put destiny into their own hands and became sapient? Is not an extension of this argument that we became more so as we bent our spears into plowshares?

  2. Its interesting that for some evolutionary reason we lost our cannine teeth only to build them again out of stone, wood or bone.

    • BuzzCoastin | Nov 9, 2012 at 3:19 am |

      all technologies are evolutionary extensions
      clothing replaced hair
      TV replaced brains

  3. InfvoCuernos | Nov 8, 2012 at 8:33 pm |

    No surprise here. I saw 2001.

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