Saturday, May 9, 2020
Neandertals were choosy about making bone tools
Evidence continues to mount that the Neandertals, who lived in Europe and Asia until about 40,000 years ago, were more sophisticated people than once thought. A new study from UC Davis shows that Neandertals chose to use bones from specific animals to make a tool for specific purpose: working hides into leather.
Naomi Martisius, research associate in the Department of Anthropology, studied Neandertal tools from sites in southern France for her doctoral research. The Neandertals left behind a tool called a lissoir, a piece of animal rib with a smoothed tip used to rub animal hides to make them into leather. These lissoirs are often worn so smooth that it's impossible to tell which animal they came from just by looking at them.
Martisius and colleagues used highly sensitive mass spectrometry to look at residues of collagen protein from the bones. The method is called ZooMS, or zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry. The technique breaks up samples into fragments that can be identified by their mass to charge ratio and used to reconstruct the original molecule.
Read the rest of this article...