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Neanderthals most likely utilized glue to make tools

Stone Age tools reveal proof of a cognitive procedure that exists in human beings today.

By Laura Baisas|Released Feb 21, 2024 2:00 PM EST

The stone tool was glued into a manage with an adhesive that is made from liquid bitumen, with the addition of 55 percent ochre. It is no longer sticky and can be managed quickly. Patrick Schmidt/University of Tübingen SHARE

In addition to searching cavern lions, producing art, cooking crabs, and possibly being the supreme early morning individuals, Neanderthals in what is now Europe likewise utilized their own type of glue. A research study released February 21 in the journal Science Advances discovers that their stone tools were held together by a multi-component adhesive. This is the earliest proof of a complicated adhesive utilized by Neanderthals on the European continent. It likewise includes more proof to the theory that these extinct human predecessors had a greater level of cognition and cultural advancement than researchers formerly believed.

[Related: Sensitive to pain? It could be your Neanderthal gene variants.]

In the research study, a worldwide group of scientists re-examined tools that were very first found in the early 20th century at the Le Moustier historical site in France. The tools go back about 120,000 and 40,000 years earlier, throughout the Middle Palaeolithic period or Old Stone Age.

“These amazingly unspoiled tools display a technical service broadly comparable to examples of tools made by early contemporary people in Africa, however the specific dish shows a Neanderthal ‘spin,’ which is the production of grips for portable tools,” research study co-author and New York University anthropologist Radu Iovita, stated in a declaration.

The tools were separately covered in the 1960s, protecting the natural compounds in the older glue. Scientist discovered traces of a mix of ochre and bitumen on numerous scrapers, flakes, and blades. Ochre is a naturally happening earth pigment that can be pale yellow, red, brown, and violet. Bitumen naturally happens in soil and belongs of asphalt that can be made from petroleum. In the Le Moustier area, bitumen, and ochre would have needed to be gathered from far-off places. According to the authors, this would have implied a great deal of time, effort, preparation, and a targeted technique.

Liquid bitumen and the earth pigment ochre prior to blending. CREDIT: Patrick Schmidt/University of Tübingen.

“We were amazed that the ochre material was more than 50 percent,” Patrick Schmidt, a research study co-author and archaeologist and geologist from the University of Tübingen in Germany, stated in a declaration. “This is since air-dried bitumen can be utilized unchanged as an adhesive, however loses its adhesive residential or commercial properties when such big percentages of ochre are included.”

After determining which substances were utilized, the scientists evaluated the strength of the adhesive product in the laboratory.

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