Caveman preferred chores, not hunting

Scientists believe that early man was actually stay-at-home type, performing domestic chores contrary to his image of a brutish hunter with a spear.

Researchers at Cambridge University have found evidence that our early ancestors may have spent most of their time carrying out tedious domestic chores. The study published in PLoS ONE journal said Neanderthal remains show they had very big right arms, some 50 per cent stronger than their left arms, which has previously been put down to hunting big game with spears.

However, a new analysis suggests hunting would not have had this effect, and their bone structure is more likely to be the result of hours spent scraping animals hides to make clothes, the Daily Mail reported.

It was the Ice Age when the Neanderthals roamed Europe and they would have need to wear furs to survive.

‘The skeletal remains suggest that Neanderthals were doing something intense or repetitive, or both, that had a significant role in their lives. The question is what was it?’ Dr Colin Shaw from the PAVE research groups and McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, said. ‘The main theory until now is that it was hunting of mammoths and deer, which has coloured our view of the Neanderthal as a hunter. But we have shown it would not have had the effect we have seen on the bones,’ he said.

Shaw’s team used right-handed volunteers to carry out spear throwing and scraping tasks, while the muscle activity in their chest and shoulder which influences the movement of this upper arm bone was measured using electrodes.

‘We found that not only was it unlikely that the Neanderthals were throwing spears as regularly as a tennis player hits the ball, but it was not having this effect on their right arm,’ he was quoted by the paper as saying.

‘Preparing several hides for each member of the community would have require exactly the sort of repetitious activity attested to by the overdeveloped arms of Neanderthal skeletons,’ Shaw said. It paints a new picture of our caveman ancestors who, if they spent a lot more time at home, could have got involved in cooking, child care, butchering and tool making, the report said.
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