August 27, 2008
Neanderthal Tools Compared To Homo Sapiens Tools
Researchers in the US and UK have concluded that tools developed by Homo sapiens were no more sophisticated than those used by the Neanderthals.
The team of researchers, whose findings appear in the Journal of Human Evolution, recreated these ancient tools and compared them to each other.
Researchers studied wide stone tools called "flakes," which were used by both Neanderthals and early modern humans. Also, they studied the complexity of "blades" "“ a narrower stone tool later adopted by Homo sapiens.
Researchers have often used these blades as evidence for the superior intellect of Homo sapiens over Neanderthals.
However, after analyzing the data to compare the number of tools produced, how much cutting edge was created, the efficiency in consuming raw material and how long tools lasted, they found no statistical difference in the efficiency of the two stone technologies.
The Neanderthals appear in the fossil record about 400,000 years ago.
At their peak, these squat, physically powerful hunters dominated a wide area spanning Britain and Iberia in the west, Israel in the south and Siberia in the east.
Homo sapiens evolved in Africa, and displaced the Neanderthals after spreading into Europe about 40,000 years ago.
The last known evidence of Neanderthals comes from Gibraltar and is dated to between 28,000 and 24,000 years ago.
"Technologically speaking, there is no clear advantage of one tool over the other," said lead author Metin Eren, from the University of Exeter, UK.
"When we think of Neanderthals, we need to stop thinking in terms of 'stupid' or 'less advanced' and more in terms of 'different'."
He added: "Our research disputes a major pillar holding up the long-held assumption that Homo sapiens was more advanced than Neanderthals.
"It is time for archaeologists to start searching for other reasons why Neanderthals became extinct while our ancestors survived."
Professor Stringer, who was not connected with the study, said: "We know that the Neanderthals were very capable technicians, and that their tools would have been excellent for activities such as butchery, working skins or wood.
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