Archaeologists from the University of Tübingen have found eight extremely well-preserved spears – an astonishing 300,000 years old, making them the oldest known weapons anywhere. The spears and other artifacts as well as animal remains found at the site demonstrate that their users were highly skilled craftsmen and hunters, well adapted to their environment – with a capacity for abstract thought and complex planning comparable to our own. It is likely that they were members of the species homo heidelbergensis, although no human remains have yet been found at the site.
The project is headed by Prof. Nicholas Conard and the excavations are supervised by Dr. Jordi Serangeli, both from the University of Tübingen’s Institute of Prehistory, which has been supporting the local authority’s excavation in an open-cast brown coal mine in Schöningen since 2008. They are applying skills from several disciplines at this uniquely well-preserved site find out more about how humans lived in the environment of 300,000 years ago. Read more.
Despite all of the technological advances hunters have seen developed in the last 50 years — no-scent sprays, exceptional optics and weatherproof clothing — today’s sportsmen share some common traits with the people who stalked animals hundreds and thousands of years ago.
The similarities have been highlighted on a bluff overlooking the Yellowstone River just north of Gardiner.
There, along Little Trail Creek, archaeologists have found evidence of people honing arrowheads for a hunt, of successful hunters butchering and dining on a variety of big game and of some old-school hunters hanging onto outdated technology after newer gear had been developed.
“One of the interesting aspects of the stone tool assemblage is the recovery of both Late Archaic atlatl dart points and Late Prehistoric arrow points within the two features dated to 1,100-1,340 years ago,” said Doug MacDonald, an associate professor at the University of Montana’s Department of Anthropology. Read more.
According to the results of a recently completed study published in the March 23, 2012 issue of the journal Science, human hunters were largely responsible for the extinction of Pleistocene-age Australia’s giant herbivores around 40,000 years ago. The extinction, as a result, led to significant changes in the ecological landscape, a cause-and-effect relationship that runs counter to the popular climate-centered theory for ecology shifts suggested by many other scientists.
States Susan Rule of the Australian National University, Canberra and colleagues in their report: “Recent studies from North America [for example] show that megafaunal decline was followed by vegetation change and increased fire. However, these events happened in the latest Pleistocene during a time of rapid climate change, so it is difficult to resolve the contributions to them of megafaunal extinction versus climate.” Read more.
It turns out that prehistoric human hunters of the Ice Age had significant help from the weather when it came to driving the big mammals, like mammoths and mastodons, to their extinction.
So reports the authors of a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
To reach this conclusion, researchers at the University of Cambridge assessed the relative importance of a number of factors that may have contributed to the extinctions of Quaternary period (700,000 BP to present) large megafauna, animals that were 44 kg or larger. These megafauna included mammoths, mastodons and giant sloths in the Americas, mammoths of Eurasia, the moas (giant flightless birds in New Zealand), wombats and giant kangaroos of Australia, and woolly rhinos in Europe. They conducted a statistical analysis of climatic information from an Antarctic ice core representing the last several hundred thousand years, coupled with data related to the arrival or emergence of modern humans across five landmasses — North America, South America, Eurasia, Australia and New Zealand, and the known extinction data of these various megafauna. Read more.
The recovery of a mysterious wooden pole at the bottom of Lake Huron is fuelling excitement among U.S. and Canadian researchers that they have found more evidence of a “lost world” of North American caribou hunters from nearly 10,000 years ago.
The scientists believe that these prehistoric Aboriginal People — who would have been among the earliest inhabitants of the continent — had a “kill site” along a ridge straddling the present-day U.S.-Canada border that was eventually submerged by rising waters when the glaciers melted at the end of the last Ice Age.
Now drowned under about 35 metres of water in Lake Huron, the Alpena-Amberley Ridge is named for the Michigan and Ontario towns that respectively mark the western and eastern ends of the 160-kilometre-long, 16-km-wide feature. Read more.
Around 8,000 years ago, prehistoric hunters killed an aurochs and their grilling techniques were frozen in time.
Stone Age barbecue consumers first went for the bone marrow and then for the ribs, suggest the leftovers of an outdoor 7,700-year-old meaty feast described in the July issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.
The remains, found in the valley of the River Tjonger, Netherlands, provide direct evidence for a prehistoric hunting, butchering, cooking and feasting event. The meal occurred more than 1,000 years before the first farmers with domestic cattle arrived in the region.
Although basic BBQ technology hasn’t changed much over the millennia, this prehistoric meal centered around the flesh of an aurochs, a wild Eurasian ox that was larger than today’s cows. It sported distinctive curved horns. Read more.