Neanderthals invented specialised bone tools

As humans migrated into Europe Neanderthals appear to have copied a lot of their technology. Now evidence of a tool independently invented by Neanderthals has been found, and it appears to predate its creation by humans. Perhaps we copied them!

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The evolution of cave art

Modern humans migrated into Europe around 40,000 years ago. Almost immediately they began decorating cave walls and continued to do so for the next 30,000 years (PIke et al., 2012). Over the course of this period the artwork appears to have undergone an incredible evolution. The earliest images consist of simple scratches in the rock…

Why did prehistoric people make cave art?

Humans have been painting caves for tens of thousands of years (and many tribes continue to do so). Some of the most famous art are from the European Upper Palaeolithic, being manufactured between 40 and 12,000 years ago. These images include the famous Lascaux paintings, along with hundreds more found across the continent. This prehistoric…

The birth of farming

The advent of farming was a key moment in human history. By intensively exploiting the surrounding land early farmers could gather enough food to stay in one place all year round, allowing large permanent cities to develop. The large quantity of food produced also meant that not everybody had to spend all their time working the fields. Some could…

Cave art: A creationist hoax

In 1879 Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola was conducting an archaeological excavation of the entrance to Altamira Cave, Spain. He’d just returned from a French conference on prehistory and was determined to make some discoveries of his own. Whilst he uncovered some Magdalenian tools (which we now know date to ~15,000 years ago) it was his daughter who made…

Did Australopithecus make stone tools?

The first stone tools manufactured by our ancestors were part of the Oldowan industry. This toolkit consists of small sharp flakes which could be used for a wide range of cutting tasks. These were created by hitting a core with a hammerstone, smashing off the aforementioned flake. The core itself could also be shaped by…