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Early Humans Hunting Spears

Early humans and the evolution of hunting skills

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It is very common to take things for granted, however if we get into the habit asking ourselves the question ‘Why’ to things that we think we know, we will probably realize that we do not have the slightest idea about most of the things that we do and know.

Such a simple question is when and why ancient humans started throwing spears. Such an action would give humans the ability to hunt from a distance, minimizing the risk to their lives. We do not have the answer about when this happened, although there have been many theories.

A few researchers suggest that the first throwing spears were used in Africa about half a million years ago. Other research suggests that the technique of throwing spears to hunt were used about 90,000 years ago.

Archaeologist Corey O’Driscoll investigated the wounds that hurled spears inflict on their subjects. She reproduced different spears and arrow points and tested them on lamb and cow bodies where she found clear difference between direct attacks and projectile spears attacks showing that hurled spears leave small stone fragments on the bones, making it ttherefore easier to find out when projectile weapons were used. Checking three different bones took us back to 160,000 years ago as the first evidence of use of throwing spears.

Of course the timespan proposed is based on the evidence that we currently have available. We do not know when it was first used, unless we had bones from the era that those techniques were first used. And someone would ask the question ‘what is the importance of such a study?’. Well maybe it will throw some light into the way of thinking of ancient humans or who knows, maybe we find in the end that throwing spears was something that humans were taught or even observed others doing.

By John Black

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