Neandertals Tooled Around with Clams

All-around one hundred,000 decades in the past, in what is now Italy, our Neandertal cousins waded out into the shallow coastal waters of the Mediterranean Sea in lookup of clams. They grabbed the mollusks from the sea floor, and potentially even dived for them in further h2o. And they also simply just gathered clams from the seaside. But the creatures weren’t just foods.

In a latest study, College of Colorado, Boulder archaeologist Paola Villa and her workforce report that Neandertals modified the clams’ really hard shells into applications for reducing and scraping. The clam-derived implements ended up observed inside of the Grotta dei Moscerini, a coastal cave that was to start with re-found out close to eighty five decades in the past. 

By inspecting have on and tear on the shells, the researchers identified that about seventy five p.c of the instrument resource materials experienced been observed lifeless on the seaside. These shells experienced been worn down from staying battered by waves and sand. But the remaining shells ended up sleek and shiny, indicating that the clams ended up continue to alive on the sea floor when they ended up collected.

These shells ended up also thicker, and hence could possibly have created far more resilient applications. So even although accumulating clams underwater took far more operate than picking them up on the seaside, the effort and hard work could have been worth it.

Also observed in the Grotta dei Moscerini ended up pumice stones from volcanic eruptions that experienced transpired to the south of the internet site. All those stones could have been applied by Neandertals as abrasive applications.

The study is in the journal PLOS 1. (Paola Villa, et al., Neandertals on the seaside: Use of maritime assets at Grotta dei Moscerini (Latium, Italy))

Neandertals ended up making these applications far more than 50,000 decades in advance of modern day individuals to start with arrived in Western Europe. But Neandertal intelligence was dismissed by the scientific group during a lot of the 20th century. In latest decades, on the other hand, proof of their instrument use and even artistic skills has developed. Neandertals hunted, created cave art, cooked with fireplace, applied boats and went fishing. Just past yr, for example, research by Villa and other people found that Neandertals residing not significantly from the Grotta dei Moscerini internet site applied resin adhesives to connect handles to stone applications. 

They could have absent extinct some forty,000 decades in the past, but it is becoming ever far more apparent that Neandertals ended up smart, artistic folks—who led completely human lives.

—Susanne Bard

(The higher than text is a transcript of this podcast)