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Narrowing Down When Humans Began Hurling Spears 208

sciencehabit writes "Archaeologists have long debated when early humans began hurling stone-tipped spears and darts at large prey. By throwing a spear, instead of thrusting it, humans could hunt buffalo and other dangerous game from a safe distance, with less risk of a goring or mauling. But direct evidence of this hunting technique in early sites has been lacking. A new study of impact marks on the bones of ancient prey shows that such sophisticated killing techniques go back at least 90,000 years ago in Africa and offers a new method of determining how prehistoric hunters made their kills."
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Narrowing Down When Humans Began Hurling Spears

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  • by Antipater ( 2053064 ) on Monday May 20, 2013 @03:50PM (#43776003)

    The Incas created structures that are nigh-earthquakeproof, using nothing but rocks (no mortar, cement, or other binding agents). Their cutting and grinding was so precise that when the joints were assembled, a blade of grass could not be inserted at any point.

    Never underestimate the power of rocks.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday May 20, 2013 @04:17PM (#43776209) Homepage

    Early humans were not significantly stupider than us modern humans. They were pretty creative in how they solved their problems, and it was their quick thinking that got humanity to the point where we had enough free time to figure out later innovations like bronze, plaster, and agriculture.

    A great example of this: They figured out the basic concept of cooking. Apes don't do that, and it allowed humans to eat things that other animals couldn't eat, and meant that humans were far less likely to get sick from what they ate. And while it seems like an obvious thing now, it wasn't at all obvious 125,000 years ago: You first had to get the idea of controlling and later building fires, then the idea of trying to use that fire to make plants you couldn't eat into plants you could eat (perhaps combining them with water), and the idea of heating meat over the fire, and observing that if you cooked your food before eating it you were less likely to get sick.

  • by ImprovOmega ( 744717 ) on Monday May 20, 2013 @04:20PM (#43776231)

    Honestly that has a lot less to do with religion than people being dicks to each other. Your math hating mullah for example was just a dick protecting his own power from the perceived threat of tech wrenching it from him. Short sighted and stupid? Yes. The fault of religion? No.

    The problem was that information used to be exceedingly difficult to pass on. If something didn't have immediate practical use it was discarded. The steam toys of the Greeks were chucked when their leisurely (relatively speaking) lifestyle couldn't be sustained anymore. Ever since the invention of the printing press though you have an explosion in cheap mass-producible information. This has only gotten cheaper in the digital computing world of the information age. Now we only have to discover something once and it's locked down forever. How many cavemen had to discover spears independently before it became widespread? Fire? Bronze? Ironworking? The archway? Heck, even calculus was discovered twice and that was fairly recently!

    Nowadays a researcher in Russia can publish his work and everyone in that field can know about it in seconds. Processes and discoveries are passed on in exacting detail. We should never again have to endure another dark ages with our current information sharing abilities.

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam