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back to article What made us human? Being ARMED with lethal ranged weapons

Boffins investigating a find of ancient stone blades over 70 thousand years old argue that it was possession of advanced ranged weapons - and the organisation to make and use them - which allowed humanity to defeat its early rivals and spread out to conquer the world. Don't bring a knife to a spear fight The small stone …

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Holmes

This could be a problem...

The world's last surviving neanderthal (John Prescott) might be advised he has a damages case against Homo Sapiens...

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WTF?

"The paper may also cause some disturbance in the debate on gun control in various nations, particularly the USA where this is a heated dispute. There would now seem to be some scientific evidence that an affinity for powerful, lethal ranged weapons is a vital part of what makes us human."

Seriously? Someone would use the excuse that people half a million years ago used spears, so they should be allowed to own a firearm?

So... I guess breeding via rape and murdering any humans that look a bit different to you when they're within a mile of your home should be OK in the States too, then? Oh... wait...

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What makes who human?

1, Apparently what makes much of the commentariat human is not possessing US citizenship.

2. Glad to be of service, and I'm delighted that we can make someone happy.

3. When did we replace the French, and why hasn't our cuisine improved proportionally?

4. But how does a speculation by an English journalist tell the commentariat that it is open season on the domestic manners of the Americans?

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Re: What makes who human?

I'm assuming the commentard is the typical frothy type. You must have seen them before, it doesn't take but a half sentence and they've worked themselves into a full on lather. It makes them quite easy to spot and it equally makes their logical faculties a bit slippery. It probably stems from the same irrational fear that makes one species of homo to wipe out another based on prejudice acquired from watching too much telly or hanging out on fringe blogs that represent the ugly extremities of the red & blue parties.

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"I guess breeding via rape and murdering any humans that look a bit different to you when they're within a mile of your home should be OK in the States too, then?"

Well, Psyx, that's certainly the argument used by the Republican Party in their recent campaign.

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"Well, Psyx, that's certainly the argument used by the Republican Party in their recent campaign."

Kinda my pokey-fun point. It appears to have flown over a few people's heads.

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Pint

Re: Ummm...

"I think that may have been what we call a 'joke' in the UK."

Yeah, I got that, thanks. Hence my tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic reply. Clearly I should have labelled it as such, for people like yourself.

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Anonymous Coward

not really

Not really, there is a significant overlap between the "no gun control" nutter set and the "earth has existed only for 6k years" set. You do not really expect the latter set of nutters to use an argument which implies evolution and 30k+ of human existence to justify guns.

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Mushroom

Re: not really

significant overlap between the "gun control uber alles" nutter set and the "already serving time for felony assault/theft" set too. Not to mention even more overlap when you add the "spent most of their formative and adult years under perception and mood altering chemicals" crowd.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: not really

Just noticed the downvote to this and the previous comment.

Eric, was that you?

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FAIL

Re: you have that backward

>> significant overlap between the "gun control uber alles" nutter set and the:

>> "already serving time for felony assault/theft" set too.

Actually no. This set are highly supportive of gun control.

>> Not to mention even more overlap when you add the "spent most of their formative and adult years under perception and mood altering chemicals" crowd

Also no. This set vote overwhelmingly Democratic Party in both myth and truth and are largely anti-gun. These tend to be single-issue 'legalize drugs' voters.

The pro-gun types are:

1) Libertarians - on the basis of personal freedom principles and/or fear of kleptocratic government (justified imho).

2) The religious - on the basis of fear of persecution by government...one major reason why the US was formed in the first place. Currently not justified but these guys take the long view...which is hard to argue with IMO. There is an 'earth is only 6k years old' subgroup in this - very small but a popular target since the belief is pretty far from the mainstream

3) Hunters, sportsmen, and former military types - basically people who see guns as just another tool or hobby item. LOTS of these guys

4) Fear of crime types - not very many of these actually...at least not that I've found. I think this is limited to urban voters in bad or 'gentrifying' areas and border areas with serious gang activity (southwest MS13, etc). In suburban and exurban America there is not much random crime and the latter group (exurb/rural) are pretty much captured in category 3

Fear of government types dominate the pro-gun side of the debate (and this is the founding reason for the right in the constitution). Fear of crime topics dominate the discussion as that is the only lens through which the media want to have any discussion as the media are overwhelmingly statist.

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Don't half of America think any belief in the existence of Neanderthal man is blasphemy?

Or was that Science?

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Trollface

Nice troll

"There would now seem to be some scientific evidence that an affinity for powerful, lethal ranged weapons is a vital part of what makes us human."

Nice troll. Equally, there's scientific evidence that rape is "a vital part of what makes us human", so let's legalize that too. Fuck those neo-sapiens and their "civilization" bullshit.

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Re: Nice troll

Rape was uncommon, even unheard of, in hunter-gatherer tribes because the levels of promiscuity were so high that no one really felt the need. It's only once people started getting agriculture, property & religion that some idiot decided people needed to get all repressed.

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Re: Nice troll

And your proof is...? There's another story suggested that, as soon as humans started roaming out to new territories, they began bumping into other similarly-roaming groups and the 'us' and 'them' kicked in, and all forms of violence ensured, from rape to mass murder.

Or: that the threat of small groups of humans dying out for lack of sufficient young made the killing of rival males in anothe group and the raping/enslaving of their females a popular activity, when groups met. All the age-old cults of fertility and the wish for a 'quiver-full' stems from this fear of local-group extinction, and this fear justified violence.

Or none of the above. Who knows, until we come across evidence?

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Re: Nice troll

> Rape was uncommon, even unheard of, in hunter-gatherer tribes because the levels of promiscuity were so high

So your saying that if women have sex with any man who asks then its all good because they won't have to be forced? What a deal! I wonder how many women would actually like to have sex with any man who saw them on a Friday night?

Amongst other things, the christian restrictions on promiscuity prevent women from being used and dumped with childcare responsibilities. You may think contraception negates this need, but the number of single-parent families would seem to indicate otherwise. Marriage makes your partner a partner, not just a means of satisfying your own passing whims. Far from suppressing sex, Paul tells people its wrong to deprive their partners of sex.

I'm not sure what other religions teach, but don't confuse "responsible" and "faithful" (or even "has kids") with "repressed." Apart from a ban on bringing other people or animals (alive or dead) into a marriage, I can't think of anything which isn't allowed except being mean and depriving your partner of sex.

In the context of a woman actually having a partner who is bound to help support a potential family, the likelihood of sex is probably rather higher than in a free-for-all with no strings attached.

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Re: Nice troll

Seems a fair bet that all Homo Sapiens preserve genocidal instincts. Saying it shouldn't be so doesn't make it not so. Beware any groups who do not look and think like you (or even wear different football scarves). And do not eat their babies.

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Anonymous Coward

"childcare responsibilities"

Even in 19th century England there were hardly any "childcare responsibilities" among the poorer social classes. Unwanted children were frequently just left to fend for themselves (die).

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Re: Nice troll

@hollerith 1

I cannot quite answer on the history of rape, but we now know war is a recent invention / trait of humans: in "the birth of war" published by Natural History (Jul/Aug 2003, Vol. 112, Issue 6), Ferguson&Brian estimate from skeleton remains that warfare or at the very least mass homicide appeared roughly 8000 years ago, at the same time as agriculture.

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Re: Nice troll

All of sociobiology is trolling, as far as I can tell - nothing but contentious and annoying assertions based on vapid generalizations, with no possibility of falsification.

Page may have inserted this particular bit as a joke, as some have suggested in the comments. But serious or in jest, it's no more insightful or amusing than the rest of the field.

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Stop

Nonsense

Spears don't kill people, rappers do.

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FAIL

"powerful, lethal ranged weapons is a vital part of what makes us human"

Maybe that's what made us human, what makes us human is compassion and empathy.

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"e"

put it in where you see fit. No?

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Go

Re: "powerful, lethal ranged weapons is a vital part of what makes us human"

...what *keeps* us human is compassion and empathy.

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Re: "powerful, lethal ranged weapons is a vital part of what makes us human"

That would make the archer fish human, which it clearly isn't.

Claptrap.

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Re: "powerful, lethal ranged weapons is a vital part of what makes us human"

Er, no, that's what would make the archer fish an archer fish.

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Re: "powerful, lethal ranged weapons is a vital part of what makes us human"

what makes us human is the ability to think and imagine

emotions/instincts, etc, are basic animal traits

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We still have Neanderthals in the U.S. They are called the House of Representatives.

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Devil

The story of human history

Who has the bigger stick.

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Anonymous Coward

human-v-Neanderthal struggle

Seeing as the population density of both species was absolutely tiny at the time they coexisted I always find it a bit hard to imagine them competing. Presumably they hardly ever met each other. However, it is well known that men have much larger penises than other primates so perhaps humans triumphed over Neanderthals by having larger cocks. Isn't that an even better theory?

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Re: human-v-Neanderthal struggle

Not sure about evolutionary pressure on cock size, but I remember a wonderful guest lecture on inheritance of bollock size in primates. This was one guest lecture that was both well attended and got rapt attention!

Shame I can't remember any of the details anymore - memory beyond 40 years was not much of an advantageous trait when the life expectancy was 35 or so!

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Happy

Re: The story of human history

I beg to differ - per the article, it's not who has the bigger stick, it's who makes better use of their stick.

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Linux

Re: human-v-Neanderthal struggle

This whole thing reminded me of old educational movies from the 60 that were big on this "Man as hunter" sort of thing. I almost wonder if Ted Nugent didn't lead the research team here.

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Trollface

Re: The story of human history

Sounds like stick shift to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Weapons - a tradition proudly kept going in South Africa

Umshini wami (Bring me my machine gun) being a song in use until recently

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Unhappy

Re: Weapons - a tradition proudly kept going in South Africa

Until recently? Thought Zoomer was humming the words after Marikana, the cops certainly were! As would I be if faced by a mob of spear, panga and knobkerrie wielders running at me.

Was about to say on a more serious note, but that would belittle the savagery and violence currently destroying this beautiful county, so let me say rather concerning the article.

It is patently wrong especially when written by South Africans. They are forgetting the first real power down this way was the Zulu people but only after Shaka introduce the stabbing spear for close and personal combat. Before that intertribal fights were ineffective as they would line up and chuck spears at each other (dodgeable) while shouting insults; low death toll and no resolution in most cases. When Shaka forged the impi way of fighting a coordinated body of men swept in and cut down the opposition in the same way the Romans did. It is how the Zulu empire was forged and was also used to create the Matabile kingdom in Zimbabwe. Only guns eventually overcame that.

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Headmaster

""When Africans left Africa and entered Neanderthal territory they had projectiles with greater killing reach," explains Professor Curtis Marean, an expert in stone weapons who was instrumental in the research."

Neandertals had already been gone, for maybe thousands of years, when this happened. Also, hominids as early a homo habilis made stone tools (Oldowan) over 2 million years ago. "Modern" human dates back a lot farther down the past than a mere 70k years.

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Boffin

I thought there was a recent study that showed that home sapiens and the neanderthal had interbred ?

then again, there were equally recent studies that shows they didnt. Thought the most recent one suggests that they did. (see the below 3 links, aug 24, aug 25 and oct 5).

If neanderthal was al;ready gone when men came out of africa, the did they interbreed or not studies would not have been necesary.

http://news.discovery.com/human/neanderthals-interbreeding-humans-110825.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/aug/14/study-doubt-human-neanderthal-interbreeding

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2213219/Neanderthals-bred-modern-humans-Europe-recently-37-000-years-ago.html

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Pint

As far as I understand we lived a long time side by side with the Neanderthals, even at the same places. My view about why they disappeared is that we committed the, perhaps first, homicide in our great history. Other more silly and better accepted (by the "church", within us) have been invented. Of course even funnier opinions can be found about our history like the one by Sarah Palin who believes we walked the world together with the dinosaurs.

"Reality" is full of surprises, especially in the bible belt (not restricted to the USA) where the Neanderthals together with dinosaurs disappeared only yesterday in our 6000 year history. So, I find it quite logical that we invented "projectiles with greater killing reach". We are still very good at inventing and using them.

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Boffin

Genetic evidence is so far inconclusive on exactly what amount and what form of interbreeding occured between Sapiens, Neandertals and Denisovans. We have significant shared nuclear DNA, but no shared mitochondrial DNA, with both of them. Some think that all female Sapiens were absolutely unable to conceive from N or D males for some reason, but not the other way around. IMO this is better explained by the overall one-sided migration of Sapiens outward from Africa combined with the old tradition of sending young adult males to marry into the neighbouring tribes to strengthen social ties with them and reduce interbreeding within the tribe itself. After all, the transition lasted much longer than all of recorded history, so that's plenty of time for a even such a slow swamping to show that much of an effect.

As for the disappearance of Ns we have not found any evidence of mass homicides occurring between Neandertals and Sapiens. The best archeological traces we have show that, basically, our ancestors migrated into Europe right after Neandertals went extinct there, or maybe just as they went extinct. The more probable cause of this extinction, IMO, is climate change, and I think this is also why Sapiens started migrating all over the world in that same period. Modern humans are savannah pack hunter-gatherers, evolutionarily speaking, so a warming world may have been an invitation to them. On the other hand Neandertals had specific adaptations to their environment, in particular cold weather.

Anyway, we don't know for sure.

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Weapon of War???

There isn't actually any solid evidence in this that these weapons were ever used in warfare rather than just for hunting.

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Joke

Re: Weapon of War???

Are you talking about the ancient spears, or the guns and US constitution?

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Anonymous Coward

The American perspective

As a citizen of the United States, I would just like to clarify my philosophy on the matter:

Urgh! Fire GOOD! Me like shapr rocks! Cut good!

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What makes us human is our ability to communicate ideas with words. e.g. "Where did you get those berries?" or "How did you make that spear point?" or "Let's head off into the bushes. Maybe there are some mushrooms there." The notion that we differ from other animals by intelligence or ferocity is a simple conceit. The ability to communicate ideas is an evolutionary change from the other large primates and accounts for all our significant differences. The other major difference is that our females are always ready and do not broadcast when they are in season.

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Happy

"do not broadcast when they are in season"

Well my wife does, incidentally are you married?.

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All microliths do

is make the recipient bleed to death faster.

In terms of hunting this means you can find the corpse and eat it - that's the advantage it gives you!

In terms of fighting others it really means sod all. It doesn't give you a noticeable advantage in stone age battle - a stone pointed spear isn't a lot more useful than a fire hardened weapon of the same size. You may wish to try this at home.

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Joke

Desperate or drunk?

Homo sapiens sapiens shagged Homo sapiens neanderthalensis? I didn't know that beer was invented that long ago....

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Joke

Obviously you guys don't know about the 'real' science

Because if you had been paying attention to the great wisdom of our Republican nominees, you'd know that it's not possible that rape is part of what makes us Human. Everybody KNOWS that the body has ways of shutting down pregnancy so you don't get pregnant from 'real' rape. Sheesh!

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Anonymous Coward

As far as I can see

AAAAH! UGGH HAAH HAAH!! UUUURRRR UUUURRRR GHA GAHG GGGGAAAAA

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