February 27, 1997 in Nation/World

Find Challenges Theory Of Early Hunting

Compiled From Wire Services

Researchers in Germany have unearthed 400,000-year-old wooden spears from what appears to be an ancient lakeshore hunting ground - stunning evidence that human ancestors systematically hunted big game much earlier than believed.

The three spears, each carved from the trunk of a spruce tree, are 6 feet to more than 7 feet long. They were found with more than 10,000 animal bones, mostly from horses and many obviously butchered.

That indicates the ancient hunters were organized enough to trap horses and strong enough to kill them by throwing spears, perhaps ambushing herds that showed up for a drink.

Before the new find, there had been some evidence of systematic hunting about 200,000 years ago. The spears are twice that old. In addition, some researchers have argued that such hunting didn’t truly begin until about 40,000 years ago.

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