|1/3. Ball-shaped stone object. Andrew Wilson et al.|
Stone objects collected by prehistoric hunters were effective as throwing weapons to hunt animals, research at Leeds Beckett University reveals.
The research, published in the latest edition of Scientific Reports, shows that stone objects collected by prehistoric humans could inflict considerable damage to large animals over distances of up to 25 metres.
The researchers, led by Dr Andrew Wilson, an expert in perception, action and embodied cognition at Leeds Beckett, alongside Associate Professor Qin Zhu from the University of Wyoming, Professor Lawrence Barham and Professor Ian Stanistreet from the University of Liverpool, and Professor Geoffrey Bingham from Indiana University, analysed a sample of 55 spheroids (ball-shaped stone objects found in African archaeological sites) from the Cave of Hearths in the Makapan Valley in South Africa.
Using research on the perception of affordances (the possibility of an action on an object or environment) for maximum distance and therefore maximum speed and damage throwing, the researchers simulated the projectile motions the spheroids would undergo if thrown by an expert. These simulations were then used to estimate the probability of these projectiles causing damage to a medium-sized prey animal such as an impala. The researchers found that 81% of the stones analysed could have inflicted worthwhile damage over distances of up to 25 metres. [...] Leeds Beckett University / Link 2