Feeds

Boffins: Proto-humans had stone spears HALF a MILLION YEARS BC

Dead springbok riddled with flinty projectiles in tests

SANS - Survey on application security programs

An international team of boffins has shown that early proto-humans were using stone spearpoints much earlier than had been believed.

Special crossbow used to shoot stone-tipped spears into a dead springbok

This was achieved by demonstrating that stone points found in South Africa decades ago had been used as spear heads.

"There is a reason that modern bow-hunters tip their arrows with razor-sharp edges. These cutting tips are extremely lethal when compared to the effects from a sharpened stick. Early humans learned this fact earlier than previously thought," explains Benjamin Schoville of Arizona State uni.

Schoville and his colleagues worked this out by examining distinctive patterns of damage on the tips of the stone points. These points were known to date from some 500,000 years in the past - well before the period that humans were known to use hard tips on their spears - and nobody had until now been able to state authoritatively that they had been spearpoints as opposed to some other sort of implement.

But Kyle Brown of Cape Town uni, an expert in stone tools and weapons, was able to make points of the same design. He then attached them to spearshafts ("hafting" them, as this technique is known) and shot the spears into a springbok carcass using a special scientific crossbow adjusted to produce consistent results.

Lo and behold, Brown's spear tips developed exactly the same kind of damage as the ones from half a million years BC. Thus, according to Brown, Schoville and their team-mates, the case is proven that the makers of the South African points used them attached to spears. This suggests that there was in fact no technological difference in this area between modern humans and Neanderthals.

"Rather than being invented twice, or by one group learning from the other, stone-tipped spear technology was in place much earlier," argues Schoville. "Although both Neandertals and humans used stone-tipped spears, this is the first evidence that this technology originated prior to or near the divergence of these two species."

The team's new paper, Evidence for Early Hafted Hunting Technology, is published in the November 16 issue of leading boffinry mag Science.

A different team recently published research suggesting that our ancestors may have had the technical edge on the Neanderthals in the struggle for lordship over planet Earth nonetheless, as they are thought to have developed much more sophisticated, lighter weight stone spearpoints later on. These would have been suitable for use with atlatl spear-hurler devices, so giving our greatmanygrandads a serious range advantage over the Neanderthals with their more basic kit. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
So, just how do you say 'the mutt's nuts' in French?
Vital linguistic question interrupts LOHAN spaceplane mission
95 floors in 43 SECONDS: Hitachi's new ultra-high-speed lift
Guangzhou skyscraper denizens to hold on to hats
Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey
Science no match for religion, politics, business interests
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
STEALTHY NANOROBOTS dress up as viruses, prepare to sneak into YOUR BODY
Cloaking techniques nicked from viruses tackle roadblocks on way to medical frontier
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.