The world’s oldest big game hunting weapon dating back 300,000 years has been unearthed in Germany.
It had a point at either end – and was used for bringing down elephants, rhinoceros and other animals.
The four-foot-long projectile could be hurled accurately at beasts grazing more than 100 feet (30.48 m) away.
It was produced by early humans using skilful woodwork techniques – showing they were much more sophisticated and intelligent than previously thought.
Lead author Dr. Annemieke Milks, of Reading University, said: “Our detailed analysis of the double-pointed stick leaves no doubt this was a well-planned, expertly manufactured and finely finished tool.”
It was dug up at the Schoeningen Palaeolithic site complex in Lower Saxony – a coal-mining area that has yielded a number of archaeological discoveries since the 1990s.
The relic was made by an extinct group of hominins known as the ‘Heidelberg people.’
They would have used it to slaughter elephants, rhinoceros and even-toed ungulates that gathered to drink or bathe by a lake.
Dr. Milks said: “The hominins selected a spruce branch which they then debarked and shaped into an aerodynamic and ergonomic tool.
“They likely seasoned the wood to avoid cracking and warping. After a long period of use, it was probably lost during hunting – and was then rapidly buried in mud.”
She added: “The Schoeningen throwing sticks may have been used to disadvantage prey – possibly from 30 metres away.”
The fine surface, carefully shaped points and use of polish suggest this was a piece of personal kit with repeated use, rather than quickly made and discarded.
Dr. Milks said: “The Schoeningen hominins thus had the capacity for remarkable planning depth, knowledge of raw materials and considerable woodworking skill, resulting in an expertly designed tool.”
“The double-pointed sticks were potentially used to assist the hunting of larger prey but may have also been used for hunting birds and small mammals”
The subspecies of archaic humans are formally known as Homo heidelbergensis.
They were the first to build homes and hunt large animals.
They disappeared about 28,000 years ago – and are believed to have been wiped out by climate change.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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