Stone Spears Arrived Earlier Than Thought
Congratulations, homo heidelbergensis
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2012 5:12 PM CST
This undated image provided by Jayne Wilkins shows different angles of an estimated 500,000-year-old stone point from Kathu Pan, South Africa.   (AP Photo/Jayne Wilkins)

(Newser) – Our ancestors figured out how make stone-tipped spears about half a million years ago, significantly earlier than thought, reports Scientific American. Artifacts found in South Africa push back their arrival 200,000 years and suggest they predated Neanderthals. It now appears that a species named homo heidelbergensis gets the credit.

Why the big deal? The LA Times has a nice explainer—these types of spears may seem simple enough, but they're considered a "watershed moment in human evolution" by many anthropologists. Their creators had to make them, figuring out how to affix the spear tip to the wooden shaft with, say, heated beeswax. They got a significant boost in hunting power—and they did so by using their brains.

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Showing 3 of 31 comments
Nov 17, 2012 4:33 PM CST
They look like early crack pipes?
Nov 17, 2012 4:39 AM CST
so that was what my old gf used on me! they hurt!
Nov 16, 2012 12:16 PM CST
Of course some tips were a little crooked, as the photo illustrates. That was for shooting around trees.