‘Complexity’ of Neanderthal tools

By | August 27, 2008

Early stone tools developed by our species Homo sapiens were no more sophisticated than those used by our extinct relatives the Neanderthals.

That is the conclusion of researchers who recreated and compared tools used by these ancient human groups. The findings cast doubt on suggestions that more advanced stone technologies gave modern humans a competitive edge over the Neanderthals. The work by a US-British team appears in the Journal of Human Evolution. …

The team analysed 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. In some respects, the flakes favoured by Neanderthals were even more efficient than the blades adopted by modern humans. … The Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) 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.

Meanwhile, 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. Lead author Metin Eren, from the University of Exeter, UK, said: “Technologically speaking, there is no clear advantage of one tool over the other. “When we think of Neanderthals, we need to stop thinking in terms of ‘stupid’ or ‘less advanced’ and more in terms of ‘different’.” – bbc

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