Archaeologists have discovered the gold mine of human artefacts, after finding ‘throwing sticks’ in a cave in Germany dating back 300,000 years. Researchers analysing a coal mine outside Schoningen, in northern Germany, discovered nine ancient spears, alongside the butchered remains of dozens of horses. Alongside these were also the remains of elephants, which once roamed across Europe.
With the spears dating back 300,000 years, meaning they were likely used by early neanderthals.
The discovery also throws shade on the theory that the earliest humans were scavengers, and out hunting capabilities emerged much earlier than previously thought.
Björn Thümler, Minister of Science of Lower Saxony, said: “The former Schöningen open-cast mine is a first-rate archive of climatic change.
“This must be made even clearer in the future. This is a place where we can trace how humankind went from being a companion of nature to a designer of culture.”
Jordi Serangeli, head of the excavation, said: “We found both 2.3-metre-long tusks, the complete lower jaw, numerous vertebrae and ribs as well as large bones belonging to three of the legs and even all five delicate hyoid bones.
“The Stone Age hunters probably cut meat, tendons and fat from the carcass. With the new find from Schöningen we do not seek to rule out that extremely dangerous elephant hunts may have taken place, but the evidence often leaves us in some doubt.
“To quote Charles Darwin: ‘It is not the strongest that survives, but the one who can adapt best’. According to this, the adaptability of humans was the decisive factor for their evolutionary success and not the size of their prey.”
Archaeozoologist Ivo Verheijen added that by analysing the remains of the elephant in particular, the researchers were able to conclude that the animals were killed by hunting.