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The Very First War

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  • kato
    replied
    Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    Lion PRIDES (as in more than one lion) today would run away from full grown elephants on the charge. I can't even imagine going toe-to-toe with a 45 year old tusker with nothing more than a spear. In fact, I would be extremely surprised if the spear carrier surived the encounter.
    There are tribes in Africa that still have hunted elephants in recent times with spears, or still do. In most cases the method is to simply group on the animal inflicting as many stab wounds as possible to weaken it over time. Typically dung is used to conceal the hunters from the elephant's sense of smell, in some cases fire is used to distract it or drive it towards the group, in some cases poison is used on weapons. In a few areas they also attack from trees, stabbing down, sometimes with specially weighted weapons. The !Kung use spears, but specifically only for a final strike in such a hunt after weakening it with poisoned weapons first.

    There are also some groups though (various pygmy tribes in particular) that have methods such as a single member or small team sneaking up extremely close and stabbing straight into either the neck, belly or into the area of the bladder in order to afflict internal injuries on a first strike. Or alternatively a single guy going in like that and cutting its tendons to immobilize it for the group to descend upon it.


    Neanderthals don't seem to have hunted elephants all that much. It's more of a "common stereotype" that goes together, typically neanderthals, mammoths and huts built from bones. So far i think there are only a handful that definitely prove involvement of humans in an elephant's death though. This one with the spear is one of them.

    At Neumark-Nord fauna remains in find layer "NN2/2B" are considered to be "entirely anthropogenic" - as in deposited by humans. This layer with an area of about 20x30 meters contained identified (*) remains of 166 animals - 53 deer, 46 horses, 40 bovids, 8 bears and only 9 other animals - including 2 elephants. The two elephants are the only (!) remains among these that do not show signs of having been butchered for meat, but apparently ventured there and died there for other reasons at some point around that time.

    (*) identified insofar as it's basically a puzzle with 120,000 parts...
    Last edited by kato; 06 Jun 21,, 23:01.

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  • Officer of Engineers
    replied
    Originally posted by tantalus View Post
    could be an edge case like an already sick or injured elephant
    You DO NOT want to charge a large injured animal. The fact that the spear stayed in the animal says the animal was still able to move (and hence able to kill) to its dying place says this was one stupid act.
    Last edited by Officer of Engineers; 06 Jun 21,, 20:09.

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  • tantalus
    replied
    Originally posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    Lion PRIDES (as in more than one lion) today would run away from full grown elephants on the charge. I can't even imagine going toe-to-toe with a 45 year old tusker with nothing more than a spear. In fact, I would be extremely surprised if the spear carrier surived the encounter.
    could be an edge case like an already sick or injured elephant

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  • Officer of Engineers
    replied
    Lion PRIDES (as in more than one lion) today would run away from full grown elephants on the charge. I can't even imagine going toe-to-toe with a 45 year old tusker with nothing more than a spear. In fact, I would be extremely surprised if the spear carrier surived the encounter.

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  • kato
    replied
    Originally posted by tantalus View Post
    Really drives home these guys were no schmucks, Homo neanderthalensis. Emphasis on homo. And righlty or wrongly makes me inclined to point the blame right back at us.
    There has also been other research in Germany into Neanderthal weapons found. One of them is a thrusting spear, 240cm long, that was found in 1948 stuck in the ribcage of an elephant - notably inserted from the front, as in the hunter was directly facing the elephants tusks when he rammed it in, and at 45 years age of the elephant those must have been some impressive tusks. It bent and was buried underneath the dieing elephant as it crashed to the ground in a pond, and was probably left behind for that reason - no other tools were found around the skeleton, but distinct signs - splinters - showing that flint tools had been used to dissect the cadaver.

    That weapon was not some random branch picked up by a "monkey" as an impromptu tool, but:
    • selected from specific wood for the purpose - made from yew, so it would be harder while being processed better
    • cutting specifically a piece slightly tapering from back to front (from about 3 cm at base to 2 cm near the front) and sanding down all knotholes to smoothen the surface, primarily on the part intended to be thrust into the animal (with less care towards the back)
    • a sharpened off-center tip (to avoid the pith), probably coaled for easier carving (for which you need yew or oak hardwood), which was then fire-hardened
    • cutting a corrugation-like pattern on a large part of the surface - possibly for better grip of the forward hand when thrusting, possibly also for the look
    • opposed to that smoothing out specifically the last half meter - possibly for laying it over your shoulder or maybe even for using some sort of quiver to carry it, leaving your hands free
    • used over a longer time in multiple hunts, and maintained inbetween by smoothing and polishing (!) it.
    That spear is from around the same time - about 5,000 years earlier - as that Neumark-Nord site, found 250 km northwest of it, and thus portrays a hunting weapon that may equally have been used by the people there. In fact it is replicas of that spear that are used in experiments on possible hunting techniques for Neumark-Nord Neanderthals.

    The above technologies are pretty much what non-industrial homo sapiens still use today. And there's also elements to it - in the surface treatment - that indicate modification specifically for comfortable and efficient use. It's also quite interesting to compare it to earlier spears found - which lack that surface treatment, and also are not dedicated to one specific (thrusting) technique. As in, it shows technological advance and specialization where if you just look at the act it is used for it is not necessarily required.
    Last edited by kato; 06 Jun 21,, 17:47.

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  • tantalus
    replied
    Originally posted by kato View Post
    Smithsonian Magazine has an interesting article on Neanderthal hunting practices and some general cultural tidbits:

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/scien...yth-180969472/

    It mostly references practices of 120,000 years ago, although that is due to the source - the article, like virtually everything that analyzes Neanderthals outside some caves, seems to be entirely based on the Neumark-Nord 2 site (image in article), which has been dated to 121,000+-5,000 years before present. It's an area where neanderthals apparently permanently settled on the shores of small lakes, establishing a sort of local industrial center that produced flint tools, tanned leather and where game carcasses (mostly bison and horse) were brought to be butchered and processed.
    Thanks for linking that.

    Really drives home these guys were no schmucks, Homo neanderthalensis. Emphasis on homo. And righlty or wrongly makes me inclined to point the blame right back at us.

    I would love if we had good insight on evolutionary change of Homo neanderthalensis over that quarter of a million years, might give us a new perspective on how we view them.

    They went extinct,victor writes history and hindsight bias is a bitch. Care needed with these boys were destined for extinction narrative, I am willing to put my hand up and take a plea...
    Last edited by tantalus; 27 May 21,, 00:04.

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  • kato
    replied
    Smithsonian Magazine has an interesting article on Neanderthal hunting practices and some general cultural tidbits:

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/scien...yth-180969472/

    It mostly references practices of 120,000 years ago, although that is due to the source - the article, like virtually everything that analyzes Neanderthals outside some caves, seems to be entirely based on the Neumark-Nord 2 site (image in article), which has been dated to 121,000+-5,000 years before present. It's an area where neanderthals apparently permanently settled on the shores of small lakes, establishing a sort of local industrial center that produced flint tools, tanned leather and where game carcasses (mostly bison and horse) were brought to be butchered and processed.

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  • tantalus
    replied
    Originally posted by Monash View Post
    Yes we get this ongoing about about the Qauternery Extinction Event arguing the cause i.e. mankind vs climate with debates and studies going back and forth between each side. Yet I cant recall reading a study arguing that it was a combination of both issues working in tandem that was responsible. I can't see why it has to be one or the other. If you have animal populations in decline due to climate change (i.e. a reduction in suitable grazing lands and/or confinement to 'refuge' environments and THEN introduce a new apex predator the two events are going to magnify each others averse effects. The prey species simply don't have the space/territory (and hence the time ) needed to adapt to the new threat and the predator has easy pickings because there's no where for the prey to go.
    For the quanternary extinction I agree. Although I would put strong emphasis on the human element.

    These days we are obsessed with climate change but the biggest issue is staring us in the face literally everywhere we look. We have eliminated, shrank, fragmented or reduced in quality nearly all the terrestrial habitats in the world. Then when new shocks occur to ecosystems and populations they are less resilent. They cant move, they cant be replenished, even become genetically inbred, as well as other other factors, some are finished off acutely or by chance event. It might take centuries or even millenia for the finishing blow to arriv, we tend to only see the final dagger, and more recently we are tracking the grind dowards. Many of the seeds of destructions of species even today were first sown early on in the agrarian revolutiionin, during intense periods of deforestations with the onset of colonialism or even those quaternary extinctions that wiped on species that were ecosystem enigineers. They were well on the way to lacking resilence before modern agrculture came along to finish them off. Most of the insane large animals in the world just went extinct before our cultural memory kicked in, maybe one day we will choose to bring them back. Its only recently that we really upped our game in regard driving the smaller creatures to extinction.

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  • Monash
    replied
    Yes we get this ongoing about about the Qauternery Extinction Event arguing the cause i.e. mankind vs climate with debates and studies going back and forth between each side. Yet I cant recall reading a study arguing that it was a combination of both issues working in tandem that was responsible. I can't see why it has to be one or the other. If you have animal populations in decline due to climate change (i.e. a reduction in suitable grazing lands and/or confinement to 'refuge' environments and THEN introduce a new apex predator the two events are going to magnify each others averse effects. The prey species simply don't have the space/territory (and hence the time ) needed to adapt to the new threat and the predator has easy pickings because there's no where for the prey to go.

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  • tantalus
    replied
    Originally posted by Monash View Post

    Been a while since any posts on this thread but upon consideration .... Firstly all the evidence points to Neanderthal being superbly adapted cold climate species. That said there's a difference between being adapted to temperate/cold climates and surviving north of the glacier line. I think the point about climate change (in this case Ice Ages) was that given their geographical distribution Neanderthals were somewhat restricted in terms of their ability to 'retreat' south of the ice line by geography - i.e. the Med and Himalayas etc. Particularity as they seemed to be dependent on larger games species for the majority of their protein.

    So I think the the issue is that the Ice Ages had a relatively larger impact on their range while having a lesser impact on homo sapiens base (but not nil) in Africa.
    I am curious to how certain we can be to the true extent in inflexibility of Neaderthal diet when push comes to shove. Thriving vs extinction avoidance...

    Nevertheless I agree glacial periods effect Neaderthals far more seriously. I agree that counter intuitively Its cold adapted species that are worse effected by ice ages as they are the first in harms way. How populations can be ultimately be replenished over thousands of years is key to avoiding extinction even while local populations are wiped out. There is a big difference between literal ice advance and cold lands. But nothing covers up the fact they survived multiple ice advances.

    99% species that have ever lived have gone extinct, its an inevitability. And certain species are far more vulnerable than others. Clearly humans are better suited to surviving longer on earth. I think there is a temptation to assign multiple causes to neaderthal extinction as they faced many major challenges, my question is elimination, as you eliminate each variable individually and run imaginary scenarios which variables suppress population numbers versus which eliminate entirely, and what cobination of variables. In may have required the aid of multiple variables, diseases, competition, climate, r-k selection profiles, chance events, in tandem to finish them off, but which one was the new ingredient that was absent in previous cycles. Ultimately however extinction is nearly always a sum event, and not the individual parts. That doesnt mean teasing them apart cant be elucidating/informative.

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  • Monash
    replied
    Originally posted by tantalus View Post
    .... I always am skeptical on climate change as primary drivers. The neandethals survived multiple advances in ice during the last glaical period. I think climate is usually not a primary cause of extintion (except severe global events) but it drives population declines, migrations and evolution. Humans have also shown genetic evidence of bottleneck and near extinction so a competitive displacement in the wrong moment can then be the key blow that otherwise would have been survived.
    Been a while since any posts on this thread but upon consideration .... Firstly all the evidence points to Neanderthal being superbly adapted cold climate species. That said there's a difference between being adapted to temperate/cold climates and surviving north of the glacier line. I think the point about climate change (in this case Ice Ages) was that given their geographical distribution Neanderthals were somewhat restricted in terms of their ability to 'retreat' south of the ice line by geography - i.e. the Med and Himalayas etc. Particularity as they seemed to be dependent on larger games species for the majority of their protein.

    So I think the the issue is that the Ice Ages had a relatively larger impact on their range while having a lesser impact on homo sapiens base (but not nil) in Africa.

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  • tantalus
    replied
    I just want to add some info of archaelogical evidence of Neanderthal and sapein expansion and contraction in the Middle East from 100 to 50 thousand years ago. Patterns seems to show an initial Neanderthal expansion with concurrent sapien retraction and disappearance. Later Sapeins return into the record and the neanderthals "retreat" into modern europe records only.

    This along with the rapid neanderthal extintion following sapien "invasion" into Europe does suggest a strong pattern of competitive displacement.

    Separately we know sapiens caused the extintcion of other smaller Homo species on islands off Asia.

    Edit, Perhpas its just conflationary to point out that Sapeins seems to have been the primary driver of mass extinctions in the late Plesitocene across the world. Intetestingly most arrived much later as we spread across the planet and the main euro extinctions also occured much later but there were others around the time the neanderthals went extinct.

    I always am skeptical on climate change as primary drivers. The neandethals survived multiple advances in ice during the last glaical period. I think climate is usually not a primary cause of extintion (except severe global events) but it drives population declines, migrations and evolution. Humans have also shown genetic evidence of bottleneck and near extinction so a competitive displacement in the wrong moment can then be the key blow that otherwise would have been survived.
    Last edited by tantalus; 30 Jan 21,, 22:00.

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  • kato
    replied
    Originally posted by Monash View Post
    Given the paucity of evidence its hard to be certain of course but what evidence we do have seems to paint a picture species of Neanderthal as a species that was highly successful in its chosen niche but also subject to the whims of climate events and not as quite flexible and adaptable as our ancestors.
    I would call them "sedentiary". In the sense of settled into their environment, well-adapted to where to get their tools and their prey, but within that niche unwilling or unable to expand.

    Originally posted by Monash View Post
    while the number of individual members living in Neanderthal groups doesn't seem to have changed much at all from the beginning to the end
    Some analysis i've seen with regard to group size based on grouped findings points towards an average spacing of three years between surviving children born for Neanderthals, in addition to a relatively even distribution between adults and minors - i.e. barely any effective population growth.

    The patrilinear lifestyle (sons staying in their father's group; women travelled to find partners) may have partially contributed to this, along the notion of "each family for itself".

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  • Monash
    replied
    Originally posted by kato View Post
    Actually homo neanderthalensis seems to not have hunted those migratory herds (bisons and such), but instead relied on localized non-migratory, non-steppe animals such as red deer for prey. It's usually explained through technology, neanderthals hunted with handheld spears still for the most part. Most Neanderthal find sites are suspiciously located such that nearby (low to mid-size) mountain ranges would have likely placed them in or near forests as opposed to the steppe.
    I wasn't referring so much to migratory species although I have no doubt they would have hunted those as and when herds moved through their territory during migrations. Rather I was referencing the fact that Neanderthals appear to have concentrated their hunting efforts on a few species of large prey animal. Migratory or not those species would be forced out of their previous range by ice age events - and the Neanderthals would have no choice but to follow.

    Originally posted by kato View Post
    Numbers are relative. At the time we are talking small groups of 10-20 individuals, extended families, living in any one place, for both species.
    Research I've read also indicates that as time progressed humans, apart from hunting a large range of smaller animals (like rabbits) also appear to lived in larger groupings than was the case with Neanderthals. In fact I recall reading that while the overall size of human groups cohabiting with Neanderthal appears to have steadily increased as time went on while the number of individual members living in Neanderthal groups doesn't seem to have changed much at all from the beginning to the end.

    Given the paucity of evidence its hard to be certain of course but what evidence we do have seems to paint a picture species of Neanderthal as a species that was highly successful in its chosen niche but also subject to the whims of climate events and not as quite flexible and adaptable as our ancestors.
    Last edited by Monash; 25 Jan 21,, 07:34.

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  • kato
    replied
    Originally posted by Monash View Post
    That and and the need to follow the herds of game animals they relied on when those retreated before the ice.
    Actually homo neanderthalensis seems to not have hunted those migratory herds (bisons and such), but instead relied on localized non-migratory, non-steppe animals such as red deer for prey. It's usually explained through technology, neanderthals hunted with handheld spears still for the most part. Most Neanderthal find sites are suspiciously located such that nearby (low to mid-size) mountain ranges would have likely placed them in or near forests as opposed to the steppe.

    Originally posted by Monash View Post
    So I still lean towards sheer numbers
    Numbers are relative. At the time we are talking small groups of 10-20 individuals, extended families, living in any one place, for both species.

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