» Home > In the News

Those absolutely dastardly hunter gatherers

29 May 2012

At http://phys.org/print256988782.html … a zooarchaeological study indicates hominids (early humans) already practised sophisticated hunting techniques in China according to Chinese scientists in a paper in Science China Earth Sciences (2012) 55. Tens of thousands of bone and stone fragments recovered from a site in Henan Province appear to consist of a lot of aurochs and wild horses, although other animals are present, and the odd human skull. It dates back somewhere in the Palaeolithic but it is not clear when as it defines it as early stone age while the Mesolithic is defined as middle stone age. Why there should be a conglomeration of bones and stones (gravels and sands) is not addressed as it appears it is simply assumed hunters were responsible for the melee – which might be right, or wrong.

Meanwhile, at http://phys.org/print257413145.html … reseachers in Oz say they have found evidence of hunter-gatherers wiping out Tasmania's large marsupials 40,000 years ago. This kind of thing festers and see-saws back and forth between humans to blame and climate change, one school writing an article and the other responding – endlessly. The scientists appear to be unable to think outside the box – in public. They ignore catastrophism. This time it is the turn of Aborigines to be castigated, victim of mind games. However, the research is also an interesting insight into C14 methodology and the fragility of sampling. Minerals in bones on contact with the environment can produce misleading data – make of that what you will. However, it is the interpretation of the evidence that all the fuss is about – and all they have proved, it would seem, is that Aborigines were living in Tasmania at the same time as the megafauna. No big deal. They 'potentially' played a part in the disappearance of big animals but it seems, no actual evidence of interaction between the Aborigines and the big marsupials has actually been found – no spear points embedded in fossil bones.

In Collins, A Guide to the British Landscape, JRW Cheatle, Collins:1976, an old book but choc full of information, we are informed that chipped flints found in Pliocene sediments are dismissed as having a human origin and are assumed to have been bounced and bumped in rivers and streams – even though they resemble Pleistocene flint tools also found in river gravels etc. Why? They are too old of course. Is this evidence that the Pliocene, as such, is not as old as geochronology allows. Might it be, as suggested at one time by Allen and Delair, the Pliocene represents one of the interglacial intervals?

Skip to content