extinction Human evolution Intelligent Design

Researchers: Homo erectus died out because he was lazy and very conservative

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adult female Homo erectus, Smithsonian/John Gurche (reconstruction), Tim Evanson (photography); CC

We don’t hear as much old-fashioned moralizing these days as we used to but this looks like the authentic product from ScienceDaily:

Laziness helped lead to extinction of Homo erectus

An archaeological excavation of ancient human populations in the Arabian Peninsula during the Early Stone Age, found that Homo erectus used ‘least-effort strategies’ for tool making and collecting resources.

This ‘laziness’ paired with an inability to adapt to a changing climate likely played a role in the species going extinct, according to lead researcher Dr Ceri Shipton of the ANU School of Culture, History and Language.

“They really don’t seem to have been pushing themselves,” Dr Shipton said.

“I don’t get the sense they were explorers looking over the horizon. They didn’t have that same sense of wonder that we have.”

Dr Shipton said this was evident in the way the species made their stone tools and collected resources.

“To make their stone tools they would use whatever rocks they could find lying around their camp, which were mostly of comparatively low quality to what later stone tool makers used,” he said.

“At the site we looked at there was a big rocky outcrop of quality stone just a short distance away up a small hill.

“But rather than walk up the hill they would just use whatever bits had rolled down and were lying at the bottom.

“Not only were they lazy, but they were also very conservative,” Dr Shipton said.

“The sediment samples showed the environment around them was changing, but they were doing the exact same things with their tools.

“There was no progression at all, and their tools are never very far from these now dry river beds. I think in the end the environment just got too dry for them.” Paper. (open access) – Ceri Shipton, James Blinkhorn, Paul S. Breeze, Patrick Cuthbertson, Nick Drake, Huw S. Groucutt, Richard P. Jennings, Ash Parton, Eleanor M. L. Scerri, Abdullah Alsharekh, Michael D. Petraglia. Acheulean technology and landscape use at Dawadmi, central Arabia. PLOS ONE, 2018; 13 (7): e0200497 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0200497 More.

This theme is picked up by Australian media:

Because of their reluctance to journey and put in the effort to find the best possible resources, when the rivers that were flowing across the region dried up, they could not find the increasingly rare water.

“They never strayed very far from fresh water sources,” Dr Shipton said. Jon Healy, “Homo erectus died out due to lack of planning, lazy gathering strategies: ANU research” at Australian Broadcasting Association

How do we know homo erectus is extinct (as a separate group)? Well, they certainly wouldn’t have said this stuff about any living group.

See also: Do racial assumptions prevent recognizing Homo erectus as fully human?

3 Replies to “Researchers: Homo erectus died out because he was lazy and very conservative

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Wouldn’t have said this about living groups? Southerners. Deplorables. Hillbillies. Males. Conservatives (not coincidentally mentioned in the article.)


    Also, I was just looking at some artifacts from Stone Age people around 70000 BC, found in Kansas. Look at the detailed work on this obsidian arrowhead. Lazy? Opportunistic? Hah.


  2. 2
    Latemarch says:

    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. Mark Twain

  3. 3
    bb says:

    I don’t get the sense they were explorers looking over the horizon. They didn’t have that same sense of wonder that we have.

    Probably because they were hooked on their iPhones, and X-Box.

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