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back to article Boffins: Proto-humans had stone spears HALF a MILLION YEARS BC

An international team of boffins has shown that early proto-humans were using stone spearpoints much earlier than had been believed. Special crossbow used to shoot stone-tipped spears into a dead springbok This was achieved by demonstrating that stone points found in South Africa decades ago had been used as spear heads. " …

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Anonymous Coward

500,000 years in the past? Good joke!

ask Mitt Romney! (Or whoever the cretin of the day is)

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Anonymous Coward

Wonder if neanderthals being the dominant species would have changed the world much. I mean a few of the survivors of that species seem to be doing well for themselves. Wayne Rooney for example.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: survivors of that species

If you like, you can get your own DNA tested for how neanderthal you are. Maybe you and Rooney could compete on percentages.

E.g. see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17527318

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Happy

Re: survivors of that species

Indeed much of the premiership have found that essential ecological niche they needed to survive....

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This post has been deleted by its author

jai
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Joke

El Reg : At the cutting edge of technology.... :)

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Explains the existence of this guy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXNppLFxeXY&feature=plcp

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I know I'm being picky, but ....

"... the case is proven that the makers of the South African points used them attached to spears. .."

The case is not proven. They didn't test other possible forms of damage/wear processes that may have indicated different usage. Did they find any stone points still attached to spears or adjacent to remains of wooden spears? It's a reasonable theory backed up by some very convincing evidence. In the absence of any competing theory, it's as good as any and worth accepting.

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Holmes

Re: I know I'm being picky, but ....

The case is not proven. They didn't test other possible forms of damage/wear processes that may have indicated different usage."

NS is a little more in-depth and indicates that the damage is not consistent with stone tools used as hand-tools, which have do have a known, tested, asymmetric wear pattern.

An animal bone with damage consistent to the stone-tipped spear has also been found.

Finally, there is mention that some of the tips are only 4cm long. That would really rather rule out a lot of other uses for the stone, given that -unless it was a scraper (which is a different shape entirely)- it would be a bit fiddly unless attached to something and could not be used as a hunting weapon of any kind without attaching to something.

As additional thought: We're human. The moment that we invent something, we try to kill things with it. We already know that wooden spears were in use at this time, so it would be strange if we found something that looked and worked as a spear-tip and we *weren't* using them as spear tips given that we had the technology. That is to say: Even if these specific items aren't spear tips, it would seems strange if we hadn't developed them, given that we had the other half of the tool as well. Conjecture that one, but indicative conjecture.

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Happy

Re: I know I'm being picky, but ....

Thank you Psyx.

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Proof does noit mean the same thing in all disciplines

In physics, and maths, yes mathSSSSSSSS, "proof" means that something is always true and there are no counter cases. If a single brick was seen to levitate, a physicists life would be thrown awry.

Social sciences, environmental scientists, paleontologists and the like take a far less rigorous view of proof. Smoking is proven to cause cancer - despite millions of counter examples. One tooth fragment proves the existence of fantastic prehistoric lizards or fish. So long as most of the bricks stay on the ground, they still believe in gravity.

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Bang the rocks together guys

Whilst the particular items in question here are not strictly percussive in use, banging rocks together, and looking at the results, is the basis from which all our technology has sprung. I find it amusing to consider that we are still very much engaged in the very same activity some 500,000 years later, albeit with much, much, smaller 'rocks' (protons in accelerators), but the actual process remains the same. One can even see the very same, 'smashing things together' process, driving the universe and the production of matter from it's very beginning, well since 10e−32 seconds after the point of origin perhaps. Just saying.

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Happy

Re: Bang the rocks together guys

I wonder... is this in any way related to 'Music With Rocks In'?

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Angel

Re: Bang the rocks together guys

no, it's what actually happened to the 5th Elephant.

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Re: Bang the rocks together guys

I find it amusing to consider that we are still very much engaged in the very same activity some 500,000 years later, albeit with much, much, smaller 'rocks' (protons in accelerators)

I know a number of folks who still engage in the same activity with the same sort of rocks, for the same results. I've knapped flint arrowheads myself, though I used pressure-knapping, not percussive. (I also used a copper rod as a flaker, while the paleolithic method would have been to use a piece of antler or similar.) It's not a bad way to spend an afternoon with some friends, if you don't mind the mess (flint chips everywhere).

I have a couple of friends who've done the whole paleolithic camping routine: go into the woods with no metal tools or fire-making equipment, build a fire with a hand or bow drill, find some flint and anneal it, knapp an axe head and a knife blade, and ramp up from there. The skills are really pretty easy to acquire with a bit of research or instruction and some practice.

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Facepalm

Let's see...

Proto-humans used special crossbows to fire stone-tipped spears into dead springboks... why?

Great technological development, but doesn't seem like a useful result.

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