In Europe, Neanderthals Beat Homo Sapiens to Specialized Tools

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Though Homo sapiens are our notoriously brainy ancestors, it turns out that they weren’t the originators of the first specialized bone tools in Europe.


New finds from southwestern France have dealt another blow to the theory that anatomically modern humans moving into Europe in the Paleolithic introduced advanced technology to the region. It turns out, the established, more primitive Neanderthal population were making their own specialized bone tools.

Neanderthal Tools

Researchers reached that conclusion after analyzing four bone fragments from two separate Neanderthal sites in southwestern France. They confirmed that the artifacts showed clear evidence of being fashioned and utilized for a specific task — in this case, treating animal hides. The age of the fragments — about 50,000 years — predates the earliest evidence of modern humans (Homo sapiens) in the area by at least 5,000 years, the researchers reporttoday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Written By: Gemma Tarlach
continue to source article at blogs.discovermagazine.com

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    • In reply to #1 by chris 116:

      Another possibility is that the technology being used by modern humans in the Middle East at the time, spread westwards more quickly than they did.

      Exactly.Given how long Neanderthals had inhabited Europe its certainly suspicious that they stumbled upon this technology just 5000 years before Homo Sapiens arrived. There’s already plenty of evidence that Neanderthals copied the tools of modern humans when they encountered them and theres no reason why technology wouldn’t have spread across their communities like it spread across ours.

      • In reply to #2 by mr_DNA:

        In reply to #1 by chris 116:

        Another possibility is that the technology being used by modern humans in the Middle East at the time, spread westwards more quickly than they did.

        Exactly.Given how long Neanderthals had inhabited Europe its certainly suspicious that they stumbled upon this technology…

        This is not necessarily a true correlation but rather a lack of evidence on organic tool manufacture. Middle paleolithic research is in a bit of a mess at the moment due to the re-calibration of dates and re-examination of organic artifacts from older excavations but i predict that more and more of these organic tools will be found from earlier and earlier dates within the next few years. One has only to look to J. Zahloa’s work (2012) for support of this.

  1. It would be useful to know if these tools and those from the Middle East differed in a significant way, which might indicate a separate origin as opposed to the modification of an established technology.

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