Who had the first bows and arrows?

Going up against a wild animal must have been incredibly dangerous. Especially if you just had stone knives or spears, making your kill close and personal. So if you could find a way of doing it at a distance it would have been an incredible evolutionary advantage to your group. That’s why it’s important to find out who first invented and deployed bows and arrows, and a team in France think they have the answer.[1] according to Nature Briefings:

The first Homo sapiens to arrive in Europe might have hunted with bows and arrows, around 10,000 years earlier than was thought. In a 54,000-year-old-cave in southern France, alongside a H. sapienstooth and tools, researchers found hundreds of stone points resembling arrowheads — the smallest of which were so tiny that they would have had enough force to kill an animal only if they were shot with a bow. The technology could have been unique to humans: Neanderthals might have inhabited the area at the same time, but there is no evidence that they also took up archery.Nature | 4 min read
Reference: Science Advances paper

The report raises some intriguing questions. There are Neanderthal remains below and above the Homo sapiens remains at the site. How big are the gaps in time between the occupations, and did they ever meet? Secondly, this is an aberrant and isolated appearance of Homo sapiens, way beyond the range of their species at that time. Why were they there? Had some sudden change of climate, perhaps, given them a shor- lived advantage? And what is the evidence for archery in other populations of H. sapiens at this time, especially in their African homelands?

This is intriguing research, but like all the best discoveries it raises more questions than it answers. Perhaps that is a good thing. One of the more intelligent people we know usually proceeds by asking questions rather than making statements. And that has to be the only safe way to proceed in a contested field like human paleontology. And maybe many others.

#human paleontology #neanderthal #homo sapiens #archery

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