Evolution and humans: Neanderthal sapiens tool usage (Evolution)

by David Turell @, Thursday, March 02, 2023, 16:00 (446 days ago) @ David Turell

A new review:


"From the origin of the species around 400,000 years ago to their disappearance around 40,000 years ago, the Neanderthals behaved in a somewhat solitary way, spending their time in small, itinerant tribes with 12 to 25 individuals. That said, some studies are starting to suggest that they also gathered in much more substantial groups, too.

"Never prone to staying in the same space, these tribes bounced between several sites according to the season, returning to the same settlements sporadically across centuries. But, these tribes weren’t completely cut off from their counterparts, occasionally coming across 10 to 20 other troops, with whom they shared similar social identities and skill sets,

"Almost from the start of the species, this centered around the creation of sophisticated stone “flakes” with flat faces, thin, sharp sides and a flair for cutting, carving and scraping.

"To form these flakes, the Neanderthals selected small chunks of stone, also called “cores,” and trimmed their sides until they took the shape of a tortoiseshell — flat on one side and spherical on the other. They then smashed the top of the trimmed stone with a single smash, spitting out flakes of a standard shape and size, which were then wielded as tools.


"Neanderthals employed these tools to slaughter animals, to work wood and other malleable materials, and to prepare and punch holes into hides, which were then tied together to create clothing. And though the species’ strong, skilled hands helped them manipulate these implements, the Neanderthals eventually hafted their tools to make them even easier to maneuver, setting them into handles and securing them with ties and adhesives, such as birch tar, which was formulated from the bark of birch trees.

"Today, archaeologists understand the uses of these tools thanks to their shape, size and pattern of wear and tear. In fact, the tools that they’ve found across Neanderthal sites all show a unique smattering of scratches. Tools used for shaping stone displayed a different type of damage than those used for molding other materials or slicing meat, for instance.

"But some scientists stress that many of the Neanderthals’ tools weren’t so well preserved. While archaeologists have found an abundance of stone tools, they’ve identified far fewer implements made out of other more fragile or flimsy materials, though their finds of wooden spears and bone lissoirs suggest that the Neanderthals manipulated these materials, too.


"...archaeologists are always finding surprising new traces of Neanderthal technologies, stressing the significance of further work within their field. Some studies suggest, for instance, that the Neanderthals did dabble in projectile weaponry, with their skeletons showing signs of throwing trauma and their spears being an appropriate shape and size for flying through the air.

"Some scientists also add that the Neanderthals were adept at twisting fibers together, too, fabricating the world’s first forms of string. In fact, early examples of cordage could count as an indication of a much more intensive fiber industry, potentially involving the production of fabrics, bags, baskets and nets."

Comment: not equal to us, but very bright.

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