Archaeologists armed with spears demonstrate how Neanderthals hunted

Discussion in 'Science' started by Durandal, Jun 28, 2018.

  1. Durandal

    Durandal Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I love it. How such ancient people, especially non-homo sapiens, lived is pretty fascinating stuff to me. Most of human history by far is actually prehistoric, the stuff of archaeological study, and it's fun to think about just how such ancient populations lived. Here, they're attempting to understand the weapons and tactics used by Neanderthals over 100,000 years ago.

    https://arstechnica.com/science/201...h-spears-demonstrate-how-neanderthals-hunted/

    A team of archaeologists analyzed injuries to the skeletons of two deer and then attacked dear pelvises with sensor-equipped wooden spears to replicate the wounds. The result is a rare insight into how Neanderthal hunters made a living: thrusting short wooden spears at their prey, probably in well-coordinated group ambushes.

    How did Neanderthals hunt?
    Animal bones at several Neanderthal sites bear the telltale marks of butchery, but there’s little evidence of how, exactly, Neanderthals brought down their prey.

    “We have hardly any evidence for weaponry before 40,000 years ago. The only obvious evidence so far—and even here not all archaeologists agree—are wooden spears or lances known from three sites only. Considering that hominins probably started hunting as early as 1.8 Mio years ago, evidence is meager,” Johannes Gutenberg–University Mainz archaeologist Sabine Gaudzinski-Windheuser told Ars Technica.

    Archaeologists found the pointed tip of a 400,000-year-old wooden staff at a site in Clacton, England, once inhabited by Neanderthals’ earlier relatives, Homo heidelbergensis, and several sharpened wooden sticks turned up at a 300,000-year-old site in Schöningen, Germany. But archaeologists aren’t sure exactly how Neanderthals and H. heidelbergensis would have used their early weapons or how their approach would have compared to early Homo sapiens tactics.

    Some modern hunter-gatherers still wield very similar wooden spears, which they either thrust or throw at their prey, depending on the terrain and the situation. Archaeologists are fairly sure that’s what early H. sapiens were doing, too. Understanding more about how Neanderthals hunted—not just the weapons they used, but their techniques and tactics—could help us better understand how competition for food and territory played out when humans and Neanderthals met.

    “If Neanderthals were using both thrusting and throwing spears, the differences between their hunting tactics may not have been as great as if Neanderthals were only hunting using contact weapons,” University College London archaeologist Annemieke Milks told Ars. “Exactly how the weapons of Neanderthals and contemporaneous Homo sapiens compare is a lively area of research.”

    Wood doesn’t tend to preserve well, so we have precious few examples of wooden tools and weapons from earlier than 100,000 years ago. They certainly don't provide the kind of prehistoric “smoking gun” that stone and bone projectile points sometimes provide, with a point still lodged between the ribs of a long-dead animal. So far, archaeologists don’t even have many good examples of animal skeletons with spear-inflicted damage, which would let them reconstruct the angle and force of the blow and the shape of the weapon that dealt it.

    In fact, some archaeologists still debate whether those pointed sticks were used for hunting or just driving other scavengers away from potentially tasty carcasses.

    Pleistocene CSI
    At the Neumark-Nord site in Germany, Neanderthals 120,000 years ago hunted along the shores of a lake surrounded by dense forest. It's a tough environment to make a living in, even for modern hunter-gatherers. Here, archaeologists found two textbook examples of hunting-spear trauma. A fallow deer vertebra bore a circular wound from what Gaudzinski-Windheuser and her colleagues described as “a well-placed lethal injury” to the deer’s neck, not far from the trachea—probably from a spear thrust.

    ... plenty more at the link.
     
  2. HereWeGoAgain

    HereWeGoAgain Well-Known Member

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    On a related note, most of the archaeologists survived the experiment.
     
  3. cerberus

    cerberus Well-Known Member Donor

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    OP

    Better than working for a living - sitting around a table speculating on things past and future?
     
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  4. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    There are many ways to hunt.

    You can hunt alone or in groups.

    If hunting alone you can make weapons out of stone and sapling wood. If you are really smart you can fashion a bow and arrows with horsetail hairs woven for a string. Arrowheads can be chipped off almost any larger stone.

    A sling can also be made from a length of leather and some polished river stones. The sling-spear combo results in the throwing stick ultimately.

    If you are hunting in groups you can surround the game herd and drive it off a cliff or into a river then butcher the dead and drowned ones.

    Even Neandertalis would have figured that out.

    And it is even possible that Sapiens Sapiens learned it from them.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
  5. wyly

    wyly Well-Known Member

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    hunter gatherers who still hunt big game today use a wound and follow technique...a wound to the large muscles of the rear legs will cause blood loss and the muscle ties up from the injury the animal will either bleed out or be unable to run very far, the hunters just stay close until it stops, poison tip arrows help...

    very likely Neanderthals used the same method only with spears...the injuries on Neanderthal remains are similar to the type of fractures cowboys experience, referred to as rodeo injuries...which would suggest they got up close and personal with the large beasts to thrust their spears into them, dangerous work...
     
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  6. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    Yup I read that about the Neanderthals -- injuries similar to bull riding. So they hunted really big game like bulls and mammoths and they got hurt doing it.

    When I hunt with archery I too need to track my quary once I have shot it, be it deer or elk.

    I have never gotten close enough to an antelope to shoot it with a bow. They have really good vision.
     
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  7. primate

    primate Well-Known Member Donor

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    You just need to be sneakier. J/K. Hard to get a rifle shot at times.
     
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  8. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    For antelope hunting this year I will be using my Remington Model 700 in caliber 300 RUM and 150 grain bullets travelling at 3500 fps.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.300_Remington_Ultra_Magnum
     
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  9. yabberefugee

    yabberefugee Well-Known Member Donor

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    I got one bull elk at 65 yds and another at 7, both with a bow It is understanding their nature. They don't like two legged predators so I keep my legs together.
     
  10. primate

    primate Well-Known Member Donor

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    Took elk with Rem 300 Win Mag until given away. Have 7MM RUM but never hunted it.
     
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  11. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    Elk are not hard to hunt. Archery can do it.
     
  12. primate

    primate Well-Known Member Donor

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    Not at 600+ yards. But I admire bow hunters. Takes a true hunter to be successful.
     
  13. wyly

    wyly Well-Known Member

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    archery with today's compound bows? or something primitive like our ancestors would've used...or just a big sharp stick like Neanderthals would've done...
     
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  14. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    My guess is that the Neanderthals hunted in a group for the elk and surrounded them with spear men. That's how one or more of them would have gotten rammed by the animal.
     
  15. yiostheoy

    yiostheoy Well-Known Member

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    Nobody hunts at 600+ yards.

    50 to 350 yards is the normal range with a flat shooting long range rifle.

    My longest shot was 425 yards and it was a hard shot. It made the kill however.
     
  16. DarkDaimon

    DarkDaimon Well-Known Member

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    And again, you show your disdain for science.
     
  17. primate

    primate Well-Known Member Donor

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    I've killed many deer at 600+ yds hunting over bean fields. But I'm trained for long shots. I killed an aoudad at a great distance.
     
  18. wyly

    wyly Well-Known Member

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    many years ago I recall a hunter from california who hunted Peccary with a knife, that took balls
     
  19. wyly

    wyly Well-Known Member

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    I imagine getting a group to within kill range would require considerable hunting experience...I wonder if they used a technique like native americans constructing a pound/corral to corner buffalo, don't know if that would work with elk.
     
  20. jay runner

    jay runner Well-Known Member

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    Going from a roughly sharpened wood pole spear to putting a stone point on it takes tremendous skill and painstaking long labor. And lack of a workbench with a Mopar stool makes it real hard on the knees.
     
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