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Did Neanderthals Hunt With Projectiles?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

NORMANDY, FRANCE—Arm bones that may have belonged to a Neanderthal 200,000 years ago have been recovered from silts close to the River Seine in Tourville-la-Rivière. “These are the oldest fossils found near Paris; it’s the oldest Parisian, if you like,” Bruno Maureille of the Université de Bordeaux told BBC News. The robustness of the humerus, ulna, and radius suggests that they are from a juvenile or young adult Neanderthal, but without other fossils, it is impossible to make a positive identification. A ridge on the upper-arm bone indicates that the individual might have been hurt by repeatedly throwing something. “There has been a widespread view that Neanderthals and earlier humans were reliant on thrusting spears, used for dangerous close-range confrontational hunting, and that only modern humans perfected launched projectiles—that view could now be questioned,” commented Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum. To read about the role of throwing in human evolution, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "No Changeups on the Savannah."

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