Ancient Humans Used Poison-Tipped Arrowheads – Miniaturization, A Unique Human Characteristic


Thanks to their unique adaptation, ancient humans could be set apart from all other primates. What we are talking about has been discovered thanks to a small sliver of crystal quartz that is about the size of a raisin, and turned out to be one of many poison-tipped arrowheads. The trademark of humanity is considered to be the usage of tools, but some other species can do that too such as macaques and chimpanzees. These animals are known to smash apart hard objects such as oyster or nuts shells using rocks.

However, not elsewhere in the primate family tree than in human evolution line such fixation on miniaturization has been seen. According to experts, at Boomplaas Cave in South Africa, a crystal quartz flake was found and dismissed as waste. However, after further analyses, it was proved that it was likely to be a poison-tipped arrowhead used 17,000 years ago to catch and kill small prey such as tortoises and hares.

Thanks to this remarkable discovery a key milestone in ancient human evolution is highlighted and proves that our ancestors were “masters of aerodynamics,” not simple-minded brutes.

Ancient humans took advantage of miniaturization, a trend that is still common to humanity

At least three waves of miniaturization were experienced by the hominin technology, about 2.6 million years ago occurring the first one. This information comes from the researchers behind a new study which got published in the journal Evolutionary Anthropology. That keeps being a dominant trend in our culture today.

Justin Pargeter, the lead author who is an anthropologist at Emory University, said that “it’s a need that we’ve been perennially faced with and driven by. Miniaturization is the thing that we do.” Throughout the archaeological record, we can find evidence of tiny stone tools, according to the lead authors. The measure of these tools is in the majority of the cases less than an inch in length.

It is so exciting to see how early the evolution of humanity has started, and how ancient humans were already into miniaturization of tools such as poison-tipped arrowheads and other small instruments employed to catch prey.


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