Scientists have made an interesting discovery recently that sheds new light on prehistoric human ancestors and how they hunted food. The scientists have discovered that ancestors to modern man began hunting with spears tipped with sharpened stones 500,000 years ago. The discovery shows that our ancestors were hunting with spears 200,000 years earlier than we previously believed.
Previously, scientists believed that our ancestors started hunting with stone tipped spears about 300,000 years ago. However, scientists recently compared visible wear on a 500,000-year-old stone point found in South Africa with modern experimental stone points fired by a specially calibrated crossbow at a springbok carcass. The test allows the scientists to prove that the spear tips had been used for hunting.
The scientists say that both Neanderthals and prehistoric humans hunted with stone tipped spears. However, this discovery is the first evidence showing that spear hunting technology originated prior to or near the diversions of the two species. Scientists say that stone spear tips are commonly found in Stone Age archaeological sites after about 300,000 years ago.
The 500,000-year-old stone points investigated in the new study came from a South African archaeological site called Kathu Pan 1. The research showed that the stone tips were also used in the early Middle Pleistocene, which is a period associated with Homo heidelbergensis. Homo heidelbergensis is said to be the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and modern humans. The stone points investigated in the study show certain types of breaks that occur commonly when the tips are used to make spears compared to using the stone tips for other functions.
"The archaeological points have damage that is very similar to replica spear points used in our spearing experiment," said Ms Wilkins. "This type of damage is not easily created through other processes."
"It now looks like some of the traits that we associate with modern humans and our nearest relatives can be traced further back in our lineage."