Neanderthals were meticulous tool makers

Hyperaxion May 11, 2020

According to a new study, they chose different materials depending on the purpose of the tool.

Evidence continues to emerge that Neanderthals, who lived in Europe and Asia until about 40,000 years ago, were more sophisticated than previously thought. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of California, USA, showed that these hominids were very meticulous when it came to the development of tools.

Neanderthals were meticulous when choosing materials to make tools
Lissoirs found in southern France. (Credit: UC Davis / Scientific Reports).

The conclusion came after the team analyzed lissoirs (a tool used by Neanderthals to work leather) found in southern France. The findings were shared by the researchers in an article published last Friday (8) in Scientific Reports.

According to the researchers, other fossils found in the region indicate that reindeer were quite common in the region, but even so, the bones used to make lissoirs come from “rare” animals of the bovine family, such as bison and aurochs. As the scientists explain, this suggests that Neanderthals had a preference for one material over the other when creating their tools.

Naomi Martisius, one of the researchers, explains that bovine ribs were used in the manufacture of lissoirs probably because they are larger and more rigid than deer ribs, which makes the material more resistant and long-lasting. “Neandertals knew that for a specific task, they needed a very particular tool. They found what worked best and sought it out when it was available,” said the researcher in a statement.

For her, the discovery proves that Neanderthals “knew what they were doing” when making tools. “They were deliberately picking up these larger ribs when they happened to come across these animals while hunting,” she said. “They may have even kept these rib tools for a long time, like we would with a favorite wrench or screwdriver.”

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