“It’s a stick, sure,” Jordi Serangeli, an archaeologist at the University of Tübingen and co-author of the study, tells the New York Times’ Nicholas St. Fleur. But calling it “just a stick,” he says, would be like calling humanity’s first step on the moon “only dirt with a print.”
As the researchers report in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, the ancient wood was likely a throwing stick used by either Neanderthals or their even more ancient relatives, Homo heidelbergensis, to kill quarry like waterfowl and rabbits.
Archaeologists found the roughly two-foot long, half-pound throwing stick while conducting excavations in Schöningen, Germany, in 2016. To date, the site has yielded a trove of prehistoric weapons, including wooden spears and javelins thought to be the oldest ever discovered. This latest find adds to the ancient arsenal unearthed at Schöningen—and underscores the sophistication of early hominins as hunters and toolmakers.Alex Fox, “300,000-Year-Old Stick Suggests Human Ancestors Were Skilled Hunters” at Smithsonian Magazine
Yes, that soft noise we heard was the footfall of the subhuman receding ever further into the mist.
If early man thought like modern man (and there seems no reason to doubt it), such insights would come rather quickly—followed by rather than preceded by a long, slow process of evolution. Then there’s the question of why the pace of innnovation sped up so rapidly in recent centuries. Is it a function of a much larger human population with better communications. Are other factors at work?
See also: Homo erectus skull conclusively dated to 2 million years ago, “nearly human-like.”
We heard this “nearly human-like” stuff about the Neanderthals for decades and now we are catching up with all these stories about them braiding string, drawing symbols, and burying their dead. How do we know it’s true this time, as opposed to an artifact of not enough excavation yet?