Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘hunters’

Insect diet helped early humans build bigger brains, study suggests | Newsroom | Washington University in St. Louis.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Prehistoric caribou hunting structure discovered beneath Lake Huron.

Read Full Post »

Ancient nomads spread earliest domestic grains along Silk Road, study finds.

Read Full Post »

Fossils offer new clues into Native American’s ‘journey’ and how they survived the last Ice Age.

Read Full Post »

20131002-125244.jpg

A Neolithic bow and arrows were recently unearthed when a snow patch that had remained untouched for thousands of years melted.
Credit: Hojem/Callanan-NTNU
image

Topic: Ancient hunters of Norway

A melting patch of ancient snow in the mountains of Norway has revealed a bow and arrows likely used by hunters to kill reindeer as long ago as 5,400 years.

The discovery highlights the worrying effects of climate change, said study author Martin Callanan, an archaeologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

“It’s actually a little bit unnerving that they’re so old and that they’re coming out right now,” Callanan told LiveScience. “It tells us that there’s something changing.”

Locked in snow

Callanan and his colleagues spend every summer hiking up the Trollheim and Dovre mountains a few hours south of Trondheim, Norway, to study the snow patches in the area, track snow melt and look for archaeological artifacts. The mountains stretch 6,200 feet (1,900 meters) above sea level, and at the highest elevations, only rocks and snow prevail year-round.

In 2010 and 2011, a patch of snow melted, revealing an ancient bow and several arrows that had been locked in the snow for centuries. The bow was made from a common type of elm that grows at lower altitudes along the coast. The arrows were tipped in slate and set in different types of wood. [See Photos of the Ancient Bow and Arrows ]

Dating revealed the Neolithic bow was about 3,800 years old, while the oldest of the arrows were 5,400 years old.

Ancient Stone Age hunters probably used the bow and arrows to kill reindeer, which spend summer days at high altitudes. The mountain retreat would have allowed the animals a respite from pesky insects, while standing on snow patches would have helped the shaggy creatures keep cool, Callanan said. Those predictable habits likely made them easy prey for ancient hunters.

No one knows exactly who left these ancient hunting instruments, but the bow and arrows have a design that’s strikingly similar to those found thousands of miles away in other frigid landscapes, such as the Yukon, Callanan said.

“The people in Norway, they didn’t have any contact with people in the Yukon, but they have the same type of adaptation,” Callanan said. “Across different cultures, people have acted in the same way.”

Decomposing artifacts

Finding such well-preserved tools is rare, said E. James Dixon, an archaeologist and director of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, who was not involved in the study.

“It’s one of the rare glimpses that we have into this Neolithic-period archery technology,” Dixon said.

However, while the find itself is stunning, the climate change that caused such ancient snow to melt is bad for archaeology, he said.

Artifacts locked in ice can be preserved for thousands of years.

“As soon as ice melts and it comes out, it’s subject to decomposition and we lose it,” Dixon told LiveScience. “For every artifact we find, there are probably hundreds, maybe thousands, that are lost and just destroyed forever.”

The bow and arrows are described in the September issue of the journal Antiquity.

Follow Tia Ghose on Twitter and Google+. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on livescience
Sep30, 2013

Read Full Post »

20130923-133116.jpg

Topic: early hunters
Sep. 19, 2013 — Research by a University of Southampton archaeologist suggests that early humans, who lived thousands of years before Neanderthals, were able to work together in groups to hunt and slaughter animals as large as the prehistoric elephant.

Dr Francis Wenban-Smith discovered a site containing remains of an extinct straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) in 2003, in an area of land at Ebbsfleet in Kent, during the construction of the High Speed 1 rail link from the Channel Tunnel to London.
Investigation of the area was carried out with independent heritage organisation Oxford Archaeology, with the support of HS1 Ltd.
Excavation revealed a deep sequence of deposits containing the elephant remains, along with numerous flint tools and a range of other species such as; wild aurochs, extinct forms of rhinoceros and lion, Barbary macaque, beaver, rabbit, various forms of vole and shrew, and a diverse assemblage of snails. These remains confirm that the deposits date to a warm period of climate around 420,000 years ago, the so-called Hoxnian interglacial, when the climate was probably slightly warmer than the present day.
Since the excavation, which took place in 2004, Francis has been carrying out a detailed analysis of evidence recovered from the site, including 80 undisturbed flint artefacts found scattered around the elephant carcass and used to butcher it. The pre-historic elephant was twice the size of today’s African variety and up to four times the weight of family car.
Dr Wenban-Smith comments: “Although there is no direct evidence of how this particular animal met its end, the discovery of flint tools close to the carcass confirm butchery for its meat, probably by a group of at least four individuals.
“Early hominins of this period would have depended on nutrition from large herbivores. The key evidence for elephant hunting is that, of the few prehistoric butchered elephant carcasses that have been found across Europe, they are almost all large males in their prime, a pattern that does not suggest natural death and scavenging. Although it seems incredible that they could have killed such an animal, it must have been possible with wooden spears.. We know hominins of this period had these, and an elephant skeleton with a wooden spear through its ribs was found at the site of Lehringen in Germany in 1948.”
These early humans suffered local extinction in Northern Europe during the great ice age known as the Anglian glaciation 450,000 years ago, but re-established themselves as the climate grew warmer again in the following Hoxnian interglacial.
An ability to hunt large mammals, and in particular elephants, as suggested by the Ebbsfleet find, would go some way to explaining how these people then managed to push northwards again into what is now Britain. The flint artefacts of these pioneer settlers are of a characteristic type known as Clactonian, mostly comprising simple razor-sharp flakes that would have been ideal for cutting meat, sometimes with notches on them that would have helped cut through the tougher animal hide.
The discovery of this previously undisturbed Elephant grave site is unique in Britain — where only a handful of other elephant skeletons have been found and none of which have produced similar evidence of human exploitation.
Dr Wenban-Smith explains the Ebbsfleet area would have been very different from today: “Rich fossilised remains surrounding the elephant skeleton, including pollen, snails and a wide variety of vertebrates, provide a remarkable record of the climate and environment the early humans inhabited.
“Analysis of these deposits show they lived at a time of peak interglacial warmth, when the Ebbsfleet Valley was a lush, densely wooded tributary of the Thames, containing a quiet, almost stagnant swamp.”
The layer of earth containing the elephant remains and flints is overlain by a higher level of sediment, rich in so-called Acheulian tool types — handaxes of various forms from later in the same interglacial. Controversy surrounds whether or not these represent a later wave of colonisation of Britain, or whether the Clactonians themselves evolved a more sophisticated tool-kit as they developed a more sustained occupation.

Story source:
University of Southampton (2013, September 19). Giant prehistoric elephant slaughtered by early humans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­

Original article:
science daily.com

Read Full Post »

20130513-120654.jpg

Topic:Early man

Beginning around two million years ago, early stone tool-making humans, known scientifically as Oldowan hominin, started to exhibit a number of physiological and ecological adaptations that required greater daily energy expenditures, including an increase in brain and body size, heavier investment in their offspring and significant home-range expansion.

Demonstrating how these early humans acquired the extra energy they needed to sustain these shifts has been the subject of much debate among researchers.

A recent study led by Joseph Ferraro, Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology at Baylor, offers new insight in this debate with a wealth of archaeological evidence from the two million-year-old site of Kanjera South (KJS), Kenya. The study’s findings were recently published in PLOS One.

Facilitated brain expansion

“Considered in total, this study provides important early archaeological evidence for meat eating, hunting and scavenging behaviour -cornerstone adaptations that likely facilitated brain expansion in human evolution, movement of hominins out of Africa and into Eurasia, as well as important shifts in our social behaviour, anatomy and physiology,” Ferraro said.

Located on the shores of Lake Victoria, KJS contains “three large, well-preserved, stratified” layers of animal remains. The research team worked at the site for more than a decade, recovering thousands of animal bones and rudimentary stone tools.

Increased reliance on meat eating

According to researchers, hominins at KJS met their new energy requirements through an increased reliance on meat eating. Specifically, the archaeological record at KJS shows that hominins acquired an abundance of nutritious animal remains through a combination of both hunting and scavenging behaviours. The KJS site is the earliest known archaeological evidence of these behaviours.

“Our study helps inform the ‘hunting vs. scavenging’ debate in Palaeolithic archaeology. The record at KJS shows that it isn’t a case of either/or for Oldowan hominins two million years ago. Rather hominins at KJS were clearly doing both,” Ferraro said.

Transported as whole carcasses

The fossil evidence for hominin hunting is particularly compelling. The record shows that Oldowan hominins acquired and butchered numerous small antelope carcasses. These animals are well represented at the site by most or all of their bones from the tops of their head to the tips of their hooves, indicating to researchers that they were transported to the site as whole carcasses.

Many of the bones also show evidence of cut marks made when hominins used simple stone tools to remove animal flesh. Some bones also bear evidence that hominins used fist-sized stones to break them open to acquire bone marrow.

In addition, modern studies in the Serengeti–an environment similar to KJS two million years ago–have also shown that predators completely devour antelopes of this size within minutes of their deaths. As a result, hominins could only have acquired these valuable remains on the savanna through active hunting.

Wildebeest-sized antelopes

The site also contains a large number of isolated heads of wildebeest-sized antelopes. In contrast to small antelope carcasses, the heads of these somewhat larger individuals are able to be consumed several days after death and could be scavenged, as even the largest African predators like lions and hyenas were unable to break them open to access their nutrient-rich brains.

“Tool-wielding hominins at KJS, on the other hand, could access this tissue and likely did so by scavenging these heads after the initial non-human hunters had consumed the rest of the carcass,” Ferraro said. “KJS hominins not only scavenged these head remains, they also transported them some distance to the archaeological site before breaking them open and consuming the brains. This is important because it provides the earliest archaeological evidence of this type of resource transport behaviour in the human lineage.”
Original article:
past horizons
May 10, 2013

20130513-120721.jpg

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: