Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dug-out canoes & spears

(from discussions in SAP & AAT)

Association of extant arboreal Pan, tree hollow, spear thrusting
Association of early Homo, hollow log dugout, spear thrusting

Some chimps use thrusting spears to hunt African bushbabies
in hollow trees. This is arboreal, not savanna (bushbabies don't
live in trees surrounded by grass), they sharpen the spears with
their teeth. Some Suaq swamp orangs use very small spears to get
the (Durio sp) neesia oilseeds from the spiny neesia fruit, they
manipulate the spear with their mouth, not their hands. This is
done arboreally, not on the ground, not on savanna. Some Ndoki
swamp gorillas have been seen crossing water with wading sticks.
I think savanna baboons never use sticks as weapons or tools.

Great apes & most likely extinct hominids & humans manufacture/d
thrusting spears/push-poles/wading sticks of some form. unlike
other known anthropoids.

Mario: Actually, the presence of sharp sticks is very common in
nature, and you don't have to invent anything. A lot of animals
have sharp antlers on their heads. Baboons have two sharp spears
in their mouth. -- Mario

DD: Sharp fangs and horns require close contact, spears allow
further distance.

each one allows safer distance while retaining accuracy.

A dugout canoe vehicle has a wood hull that partly conceals and
provides a spearing/throwing platform, made of solid cellulose
fibers nearly impenetrable to teeth of hippos, cats, crocs.

Spearing fish or animals from a dug out canoe is relatively safe,
so I think that push-pole spears were used very effectively, one
person (wife) push-poling the boat, the other stabbing the
prey/predator (husband) and also steering & push-poling at times.
Piles of pebbles in the bottom (heavy ballast to prevent tipping
over) allowed fast throwing with reasonable accuracy, so there
was no need for large groups of Homo for protection at all times
(which had been necessary during the previous swimming-diving-
wading-beachcombing period), this allowed expansion inland and
thus slowly began inland shore trade for sea nutrients (salt,
sun-shore-dried fish & shellfish).

Seems that the swimming-diving-wading-beachcombing and dugout
development co-occurred for a lengthy period.

Dugongs are arrowed by Andaman people from dugouts.
Whales trapped during their birthing time in bays/lagoons could
have been targets for dugout users, as they were for whaling
vessels in Baja Calif.

An international research team, including two geologists from
UT Austin, has unearthed ancient stone tools from an unusual
geological setting in Africa that may contribute to solving
the mystery of the geographic origins and adaptations of modern
humans. The findings push back by 10,000 years the date for
earliest evidence of human consumption of shellfish, marking
the onset of a new type of feeding strategy in human evolution.
The tools were found within a fossil reef terrace on the Red
Sea coast of Eritrea. They suggest that early humans were
adapted to coastal marine environments and ate seafood,
including clams, crabs, scallops and oysters, as early as
125,000 years ago. Eritrea is located north of Ethiopia and
southeast of the Sudan. The findings were published in
the May 4 issue of the journal Nature.
Dr. Richard T. Buffler, a professor of geological sciences and
senior research scientist at the UT Austin Institute for
Geophysics, and Berhane Negassi Ghebretensae, a UT Austin
graduate student from Eritrea, participated in the project.
The project was headed by Dr. Robert C. Walter, a geologist and
geochronologist with Mexico's Centro de Investigacion Cientifica
y Educacion Superior de Ensenada in Baja California. The
research team includes scientists from Eritrea, the U.S.,
Mexico, the Netherlands, France and Canada.

The Paleolithic hand axes and obsidian flakes and blades were
discovered in a fossil reef terrace near the Eritrean village of
Abdur on the Gulf of Zula. The reef terrace is about ten km long
and about six to fourteen meters above current sea level.
"This is the oldest documentation in the world of the use of
marine resources - clams, crabs and oysters - which are found
in this reef along with the stone tools," Buffler said. "The use
of marine seafoods as a food source indicates a new behavior for
early humans." "We would like to call this the 'first oyster
bar,'" said Walter. "Abdur is an important site, not just because
it is the earliest evidence for coastal marine occupation to
date, but because it opens up the entire coast of Africa as a
whole new realm of exploration for early human archaeology and
paleontology." The geographic origin of modern humans is a
subject of intense debate. One school of thought contends that
modern humans evolved semi-independently in Europe, Asia and
Africa between 100,000 and 40,000 years ago. Another holds that
modern humans evolved in Africa between 200,000 and 100,000
years ago, migrating to Eurasia at a later period.
Direct paleontological, archaeological and biological evidence
is required to resolve the conflict. The importance of finding
ancient tools in Eritrea is that it favors an "out of Africa"
migration. "It is right on the potential migration route of
modern humans out of Africa into Europe, Central Asia and over
into Far Eastern Asia," Buffler said.
The age of the stone tools found embedded in the rock was
based on dating the fossil corals close to the tools by
uranium-thorium mass spectrometric techniques to 125,000
years ago. The oldest previously known coastal site, the
Klasies River mouth in South Africa, is estimated to be
115,000 years old, some 10,000 years later than the Abdur
site. Rare occurrences of bifacial handaxes have been found
on the surface of Pleistocene marine terraces from the Danakil
Rift Valley of Eritrea and the Egyptian coast of the Red Sea.
But they were not found in geological context, meaning direct
estimates of their age were not possible.
"Nowhere else have stone tools been reported to be in a reef
rock itself. So we know that the ancient people at Abdur were
there on the reef and dropped these tools where they harvested
their food. And the tools then became part of the geological
record," Buffler said the team of researchers was traveling
to another field area in the winter of 1997 when the group
stopped near the reef. "We camped overnight and in the morning
we started looking around and discovered the paleolithic tools
in the reef," Buffler said. The team,led by Walter and partly
funded with a National Science Foundation grant, returned to
study the area in more detail in January and February of 1999.

As I understand it, the hand tools were within a fossil coral
reef matrix which was tectonically uplifted at some time in the
past. "about six to fourteen meters above current sea level."

I can't comment on the technology used to determine the dates.
I would not be surprised with dates from any period, from
3+ million years ago to 50 years ago. People still use stone
tools for various purposes.

"Paleolithic hand axes and obsidian flakes and blades..."

It's certainly nice to see those clearly crafted tools in the
reef, no doubt others will be found when people start looking.

"Rare occurrences of bifacial handaxes have been found on the
surface of Pleistocene marine terraces from the Danakil Rift
Valley of Eritrea and the Egyptian coast of the Red Sea."


Paul Kekai Manansala said...

Hi Dave,

Just found your blog!

Paul Kekai Manansala
Nusantao Maritime Trade Network of SOutheast Asia and the Pacific

"the Dude" said...

Hey Paul,

good to hear from you!