Ancient Hunting Spear Predates Humans By 85,000 Years

spearDo the origins of civilization on Earth reach back significantly farther than we have realized? Discovery reports:

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.

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.

45 Comments on "Ancient Hunting Spear Predates Humans By 85,000 Years"

  1. Liam_McGonagle | Nov 19, 2013 at 9:14 am |

    “Ancient Hunting Spear Predates Humans By 85,000 Years”

    Great. Now if you ever get lonesome for your parents all you have to do is go down to the museum to hear a piece of flint ramble on about how life was so much tougher back in its own days, and about how kids today are spoilt and don’t know how good they have it.

    • Calypso_1 | Nov 19, 2013 at 9:42 am |

      …I had to learn to knap flint.

      • Liam_McGonagle | Nov 19, 2013 at 10:07 am |

        Yeah, no sh*t. I’m dreading Thanksgiving dinner already. I can just hear Uncle Slime Mold ragging on Uncle Vertebrate about his candy-*ss centralized nervous system and high basal metabolism.

      • Unlicensed Dremel | Nov 19, 2013 at 11:51 am |

        Flint that old takes a lot of knaps.

  2. Calypso_1 | Nov 19, 2013 at 9:34 am |

    ooOK …so someone before sapiens attached it to a stick

    H.hablis started using stone tools 2.6 million years ago.
    H.erectus 1.7 million- ~140,000 years ago.

    1,000,000 year old H.erectus tool (they also had fire!)

    • Simon Valentine | Nov 19, 2013 at 10:59 am |

      i can’t help myself 🙂 i like noodles with beef or chicken too much!

      i imagine measurements being taken of inner or freshly broken material and comparisons being run on the more original shaping but can’t see any analysis solving some critical problems of determination (no stereotype pun intended). but that’s beside the point.

      what if the ancient intelligence is actually fed by our interest in it today as a sort of time-dynamic growth? do such statements as this make growth more difficult like a knot in a tree?

      i’m just imaging random events of cave-man hu-ra being directly connected to we today. so, there are probably multiple pinions of expansion (sort of like a ‘ping’ version of the time-wave in A Sound of Thunder) around which these sorts of connections furl, and i wonder about their locations or connected cultural significance, but what i was going to say: that entities 4000 years ago are getting smarter and in turn pushing the threshold of earlier intelligence to a still-earlier date. no “what actually happened” for me today please! fries sound good though..

      • history isn’t as concrete as they’d like us to believe

        • Calypso_1 | Nov 19, 2013 at 11:10 am |

          With the devil running around hiding dinosaur fossils its hard to tell how old the alien artifacts really are.

          • emperorreagan | Nov 19, 2013 at 11:48 am |

            If you catch the devil hiding a dinosaur bone, does he have to give you his pot of gold?

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

            That’s when you catch Lucifer shooting rainbows out of his ass. The devil has to give you the archaeopteryx that lays the golden egg.

          • either him or some time travelers from the fyoocher.

          • kowalityjesus | Nov 20, 2013 at 3:07 am |

            How about the modern humans encased in 10-million-year-old basalt or coal? WTF does anyone have to say about that? Is there any theory besides Vedic creationism that jibes with this?

  3. リカルド 忍者の心 | Nov 19, 2013 at 9:49 am |

    So what?! In 2012, spears dated from 500,000 years ago have been found at Kathu Pan 1 site (South Africa), that’s 220,000 older than these ones at Gademotta!

    • Calypso_1 | Nov 19, 2013 at 12:37 pm |

      Absolutely. If you look at the study this article is referencing they are stating the tools were made by H.heidlebergensis the same as Kathu. They are simply pointing out a convergence of this hominid culture with the emergence and outward migration of sapiens from ethiopia.

  4. Very cool. I love stuff like this that flies in the face of existing official narratives.

    • Calypso_1 | Nov 19, 2013 at 11:07 am |

      It doesn’t. The idea that there really is an official narrative for these timelines is erroneous. The datapoints are so sparse that every time there is a new find the entire schema changes.
      It sells magazines though.

      • Jin The Ninja | Nov 19, 2013 at 11:40 am |

        that’s basically what i was thinking. however i also notice a tendency to frame the timeline in the most ‘conservative’ manner possible- a seemingly direct trajectory from ape to hunter-gatherer to civilization.

        whether this is reflective of the actual science of it, or simply how science journals and magazines refer to it- i can’t say.

        • Calypso_1 | Nov 19, 2013 at 12:03 pm |

          I think it’s more public misconception & the inability to grasp the millions of years our proto-human ancestors were ‘hunter-gathers’. During this time you had multiple speciations & multiple hominid species living at the same time. Language evolution, tools, fire. We don’t know how far culture developed. ‘Civilization’ has been pushed back to the very end of the last ice age (~12,000 years) and this corresponds w/ genetic evidence for domestication of livestock. Dogs were much earlier by 30,000 probably began 100,000 years ago. These were obviously major times of technological/cultural change. I can imagine that cultures such as the reindeer peoples could have existed at this time and left no trace.

  5. Unlicensed Dremel | Nov 19, 2013 at 11:50 am |

    Ummm, another implication is that maybe – just maybe – their/our dating techniques are inaccurate – why can’t THAT be a possibility? We’re continually finding out that this theorum or that theorum was wrong (recent hominid tree revision is an example), so why are the dating methods so unassailable?

    • Simiantongue | Nov 19, 2013 at 6:42 pm |

      A heretic, get em!!!

    • Calypso_1 | Nov 19, 2013 at 9:13 pm |

      No that is not an implication of the study at all. But dating methods are not ‘unassailable’. Each have known disadvantages. However, it becomes less probable that the margins of error are significant when multiple methods are used. Fundamentally you are going to have to argue against constants of radioactive decay to truly undermine every molecular method, including genetics. Sure there might in fact be some variations to the primary laws of the universe but there is no reason to believe they have operated across these timescales in such a fashion to alter the evidence as it uncovered for human evolution.
      It is not that the theorems are ‘wrong’ as the general public understands it. They are supposed to fit based on available evidence. Evidence in this field comes slowly and sparsely. Theory is altered to fit evidence. The alterations are refinement.

      • kowalityjesus | Nov 20, 2013 at 3:31 am |

        slowly, sparsely, and selectively, aye? What’s the liklihood that evidence is altered to fit theory? by the way I don’t have an axe to grind, quite objectively curious.

        • Calypso_1 | Nov 20, 2013 at 3:39 pm |

          Also in reference to your other reply involving human remains in coal.
          Selectively…ever been on a dig? Everything is cataloged, it is extremely tedious work.
          How is that nearly every reference to out of place artifacts involves some random person randomly finding something that they are not qualified to make determinations on? The original site is not preserved, there is, if any evidence to be found, poor chain of custody and often just anecdotal accounts from the ’30’s or some news clipping. Invariably, these stories are collected as proof by creationist ‘scientists’ etc.
          I am all for paradigms being turned on end and I love a good old fashioned medicine show as well.
          I can see, usually in cases of more recent history, where the powers that be are not amenable to discoveries because it upsets official narratives, national mythologies etc. Fundamentally these come down to claims of ownership & territory. In these cases you will see attempts at uncovering finds stifled (often more likely by commercial rather than political interest), but that in no way implies that what would have been uncovered is a total anomaly to available theories.
          I see room in the current timelines and geological narrative for their to be entire civilizations that could have been lost (of course many would say the evidence is obvious). There may be a desire to keep a modern mythos alive about the origins of humanity simply for social cohesion, but when you are talking about the timescales that are actually known to be involved there is a lot of room for things to have happened. That and glaciation can wipe the slate pretty clean. What is 10-20,000 thousand unaccounted for years in the grand scheme of things?

          • kowalityjesus | Nov 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm |

            Yes I am sure the world of the past we construct is full of egregious gaps, large enough to fit a civilization in. I am less amenable to an attitude of dismissal of out of place artifacts. I am working on an article about “miracles” and in one of the first references I found, the author gives the example that one day an accountant finds $100,000 missing, and he will accept any logical explanation for it being missing, and if he never gets one, he will assume that there is a logical explanation that he just simply does not know. Obviously this is a ‘reverse miracle’ but it shows why belief in miracle can never fit in with a ‘rational’ weltanshau. We can obviously draw analogy to the phenomenon of ooparts: objects we can’t explain will simply have to be discounted from credibility…so long as we suspend belief in the non-rational operations of an unbounded authority in our world (and outside).

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 20, 2013 at 6:09 pm |

            Are you saying that supreme deity is a requirement for the explanation of anomalies?

          • kowalityjesus | Nov 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

            Errm, that was my intended connotation, and that is my belief. But I suppose there can also be non-supreme deities who/that could create concrete inexplicable phenomena.

          • Calypso_1 | Nov 20, 2013 at 7:25 pm |

            I concur that the nature of the supreme deity is reductio ad absurdum.

          • kowalityjesus | Nov 21, 2013 at 1:18 am |

            We men are close enough, above the beasts and minerals, that we can begin to appreciate the supreme creator. Know thyself and you will know God. Well I just read this so I might as well quote it, lol.

            Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Phillippians 4:8


          • So… God likes to fuck with us?

          • kowalityjesus | Nov 22, 2013 at 1:01 am |

            In the matter of artifacts, our flabbergastedness may be intentional or it may be collateral. I think they are the same thing, a philosophical conundrum in itself.

            In terms of miracles and intercessions, it is quite volitional, thanks Jesus.

          • VaudeVillain | Nov 21, 2013 at 7:48 pm |

            I apply Occam’s Razor to most of these issues: is the simplest answer that these artifacts are not anachronistically located and that all of our current data is completely invalid, or that they are anachronistically located and that there exists some other (probably unlikely) explanation? If there is enough compelling evidence that the find is not the result of some bizarre accident of history, then so be it… but generally there is not.

            it’s not so much that I believe in discounting outliers as that I believe in investigating them thoroughly before trying to account for them in the data. Empirically, most prove to be the result of bizarre circumstance or hoax, rather than justification for a paradigm shift.

          • kowalityjesus | Nov 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm |

            Occam’s razor does rather damn a lot of the complications that arise from ooparts. Perhaps when a body of scientists actually acknowledges them as a whole rather than a smattering, like modern archaeologists do(with also quite-sparse artifacts), we could formulate a pattern that was really fantastical but consistent.

            Scholarly archaeologists are looking for artifacts in specific places generally; most ooparts are afield and incidental, and sometimes are only dismissable because of an unscientific protocol, like OJ’s blood sample being inadmissable in court because it was carried around in an investigator’s pocket for a time.

  6. doodahman | Nov 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm |

    Apparently the monkey gave up spear chucking and went back to flinging poop. Just like humans did after the invention of the internet.

  7. I remember one time where a lecturer told my class once: “the study of Classical antiquity is something crazy. It’s like rewriting the history of the 20th century with a few pieces by Yeats and some graffiti on lavatory walls.”
    So imagine how difficult it is to make sense of prehistorical times.

  8. Antediluviancurrent | Nov 19, 2013 at 11:41 pm |

    I remember when a lecturer told my class once: “the study of Classical antiquity is something crazy. It’s like rewriting the history of the 20th century with a few pieces by Yeats and some graffiti on lavatory walls.”
    So imagine how difficult it is to make sense of prehistorical times.

  9. The question is, how accurate is Carbon 14 dating, or others methods of artifact dating in use?

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