New findings published in the Journal of Human Evolution reveal just what caused the Neanderthals to die off while humans survived and thrived into the modern era.
Scientists have been struggling with the question for years, yet now, researchers at The University of Tokyo and Nagoya University have discovered that innovative hunting weapons were perhaps not the driving force “out of Africa,” but a way to rethink previous findings on how humans survived and Neanderthals did not.
“We’re not so special, I don’t think we survived the Neanderthals because of technological competence,” said lead study author Seiji Kadowaki in a news release. “Our work is related to the processes behind the global spread of modern humans, and specifically the cultural impact of the modern humans who migrated to Europe.”
The latest study specifically looked at innovative stone weapons that were used by humans about 42,000 to 34,000 years ago. Researchers previously believed that certain weapon innovations may have allowed humans to branch out across parts of Africa and Europe. However, these study results certainly suggest otherwise. Innovation was not likely a driving force at all.
During a period that stretched as far back from 55,000 to 40,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans expanded the geographic area that was inhabited out of Africa in which anatomically modern humans are believed to have made a huge impact on the biological origins of the people living today.
It’s through studying stone tools that researchers found that, while anatomically modern humans were special in the way they behaved and thought, it was not due to technological or cultural innovation. They discovered that the creation of small stone points that work as tips for hunting weapons is what actually does not match up with the timeline.
Yet they discovered that there could be a possibility that the stone points appeared sometime in Europe around 3,000 years earlier than in the Levant, a historical area in west Asia.
“We looked at the basic timeline revealed by similar stone points, and it shows that humans were using them in Europe before they appeared in the Levant-the opposite of what we’d expect if the innovation had led to the humans’ migration from Africa to Europe,” concluded Kadowaki. “Our new findings mean that the research community now needs to reconsider the assumption that our ancestors moved to Europe and succeeded where Neanderthals failed because of cultural and technological innovations brought from Africa or West Africa.”
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