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Stone-tipped spears 500 kya indicate increase in human cognitive and social skills?

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experiment apparatus/Jayne Wilkins, Benjamin Schoville, Kyle Brown.

Experiments showed that the stone tips inflicted more damage on the hunted animal. Not because they penetrated deeper but because they did wider damage, probably slowing the animal down.

From ScienceDaily:

“Putting a fragile stone tip on a spear is risky,” said Schoville, “but we show that there are serious rewards in terms of both the size and shape of the wound created that made this innovation extremely worthwhile during our evolution.”

The authors also posit that the manufacture of the stone-tipped spears may represent the origin of new cognitive and social development in our human ancestors. Working memory (the ability to hold attention to multiple tasks in order to collect, prepare and combine different kinds of raw materials into a weapon), and constructive memory (the ability to imagine and plan for future tasks), were mental capacities required for tipped spear construction. In addition, since a stone-tipped spear is a skill likely to have been learned by being passed from generation to generation through social or group learning, stone-tipped technology is evidence of the evolutionary impact of “cumulative culture.”

The paper is open access.

See also: What questions about evolution come down to is, “Who are we?” (How come chimps (we are the third ape, according to some views) never did this stuff, never tried to, never thought of it?)

Here’s the abstract:

Stone-tipped weapons were a significant innovation for Middle Pleistocene hominins. Hafted hunting technology represents the development of new cognitive and social learning mechanisms within the genus Homo, and may have provided a foraging advantage over simpler forms of hunting technology, such as a sharpened wooden spear. However, the nature of this foraging advantage has not been confirmed. Experimental studies and ethnographic reports provide conflicting results regarding the relative importance of the functional, economic, and social roles of hafted hunting technology. The controlled experiment reported here was designed to test the functional hypothesis for stone-tipped weapons using spears and ballistics gelatin. It differs from previous investigations of this type because it includes a quantitative analysis of wound track profiles and focuses specifically on hand-delivered spear technology. Our results do not support the hypothesis that tipped spears penetrate deeper than untipped spears. However, tipped spears create a significantly larger inner wound cavity that widens distally. This inner wound cavity is analogous to the permanent wound cavity in ballistics research, which is considered the key variable affecting the relative ‘stopping power’ or ‘killing power’ of a penetrating weapon. Tipped spears conferred a functional advantage to Middle Pleistocene hominins, potentially affecting the frequency and regularity of hunting success with important implications for human adaptation and life history. – Jayne Wilkins, Benjamin J. Schoville, Kyle S. Brown. An Experimental Investigation of the Functional Hypothesis and Evolutionary Advantage of Stone-Tipped Spears. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (8): e104514 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0104514

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It is my understanding that Adam was superior ecologically (in harmony with nature) but not necessarily intellectually. This belief is based on the fact that mankind gained certain knowledge that was not in our possession before the fall; namely, the knowledge of good and evil. I think a good case can be made that our bodies, as a species, are slowly degenerating, but our minds (especially collectively) appear to be expanding. Daniel declared, "and knowledge shall be increased", referring to the last days. If you will carefully consider the evidence, you may find that perhaps the Bible has been misrepresented historically in many ways; however, I admire your faith and admonish you to turn to the scriptures for your interpretations, rather than rely on the traditions of men and corrupted churches. (See Revelations chapter 2 and 3) littlejohn
The evolutionary story of the history of mankind just makes no sense at all. Humans were making spears 500kya and yet no one ever thought of farming until about 12,000 years ago and horseback riding didn’t begin until 6,000 – 8,000 years ago. RIGHT!
Pretty ridiculous isn't it. And then agriculture pops up suddenly and independently all over the place... Also there is evidence of human practices of burying their dead with stone implements "hundreds of thousands of years ago"... yet of all those billions of humans that would have come and went over all this time, there is relatively hardly any graves to be found. Anthropologists should be tripping over them... It's almost like that time doesn't exist and people have only been around for a few thousands of years, not hundreds of thousands. lifepsy
They had the technology, foresight, planning ability, etc. to make metal tipped spears 500,000 years before their mental ability developed to the point where they thought about farming. This is the kind of weird stuff evolutionists believe. Even many Christians go along with this evolutionary timetable instead of believing what the Bible says. It is obvious from Scripture that God did not create mentally inferior humans in the beginning. No, He created humans perfect with full mental capabilities from the start. Humans weren't any less capable mentally speaking in Adam's day than today. In fact, he was probably more mentally capable than us. The amount of knowledge Adam possessed about his world was much less than the body of knowledge we have developed through years of research, but his mental capability was surely superior to ours. Cain and Able were farming and raising livestock from the beginning! And it is very possible that that did happen from 6,000 - 12,000 years ago. tjguy
The evolutionary story of the history of mankind just makes no sense at all. Humans were making spears 500kya and yet no one ever thought of farming until about 12,000 years ago and horseback riding didn't begin until 6,000 - 8,000 years ago. RIGHT! tjguy
I believe there was a documentary that chimps are known to have used sticks as spears, and may have even sharpened the tips, if memory serves. But yeah, clearly human cognitive and social skills have evolved significantly, but whether or not for our benefit remains to be seen. littlejohn
this paper doesn't support human evolution. It just illustrates our devolution, as our hunting stories get more and more lame. awstar

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