… and discover what it reveals about those amazing Neanderthals and their blades.
Archeologists have unearthed a stone meat cutting knife that reveals more clues about the blades that Neanderthals made and loved, a science journal reported last week.
The tool is essentially “a Swiss Army knife,” one researcher said in this video posted by The Siberian Times.
Its blunt end made it convenient to hold, and you could butcher meat with it for about an hour until it began to dull. The knife was a multitool that Neanderthals likely used to skin the animals they hunted, to butcher meat, and to make other tools.
Where the 60,000-year-old knife was found also reveals more clues about the Neanderthals. Prior to this discovery, we’ve assumed they lived in Western Europe. But the 60,000-year-old multitool was found in Siberia. That means that one group of Neanderthals completed an intercontinental trek roughly equivalent to walking from New York to Los Angeles.
Neanderthals lived in Europe during a time when there were a least three other human species besides Homo sapiens (us), a BBC article explains. Some individuals mated with Homo sapiens and had babies. Remarkably, some of us have very small amounts of Neanderthal DNA in our genome. We’re more likely to have some Neanderthal DNA if we are of Northern European descent.
WARNING: Once you start learning about Neanderthals, you won’t be able to stop. But do start, because they are fascinating. To begin, check out this podcast episode from The Daily Show’s Mo Rocca about things Neanderthal
[Image: Reconstruction of a Neanderthal woman. Wikimedia Commons, Bacon Cph]
More Facts About Neanderthal Knives
Neanderthals living on what is now the Italian coast dove underwater to procure live clam shells for their blade materials, Smithsonian Magazine reports. They preferred live clam shells to the dead, desiccated clam shells they could find more easily on the shore. Live clam shells are thicker, so make stronger blades. And to answer another question I know you’re asking, yes they could swim. They hunted dolphins.
Scientists call Neanderthal tool-making ‘Mousterian,’ after a place in France where tools from 200,000 years ago were first found. Knife makers would strike pieces off from a hard stone core. This flaking wasn’t random. Rather, Neanderthal craftsmen approached the project “much as a diamond cutter analyzes a rough gemstone today, trying to strike just the spot that would yield ‘flakes,’ for knives or spear points. Knives made this way required minimal sharpening and shaping, according to another Smithsonian article.
In addition to knives, Neanderthals also had tools like hand axes, saws, and spears.
The first Gorilla Glue? When it came to technology, Neanderthals had an admirable stick-to-itiveness. They figured out how to make tar, which they used to affix the blades they made to handles. Making tar requires that you carefully measure and manage time and temperature, something this 21st-century gal is still challenged with.
[Photo: The Siberian Times]
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