Neanderthals hunted with wooden spears, but they didn’t throw them – they used them to kill animals at close range. This is the conclusion that an international research team led by scientists from the Monrepos Archaeological Research Centre in Neuwied, Germany has reached. The team, which included scientists from ETH Zurich, published its findings in the latest issue of the journal
Nature Ecology & Evolution
The researchers analysed two 120,000-year-old fallow deer skeletons that were found in Germany bearing hunting injuries. They also conducted ballistic experiments on non-historical deer bones and artificial bone material and compared these with the archaeological finds.
A doctoral student and an ETH Master’s student who work with Jonas Buchli, a Professor at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich, developed a special piece of measuring equipment: they equipped a wooden spear with a range of sensors used in flight robotics, including an accelerometer and a camera. Scientists and trained Chinese martial arts practitioners used these high-tech spears to strike the bone material with a range of blows of varying force.