This 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]