At a point during human prehistory, hunters' reliance on the spear-thrower, or atlatl, shifted to another kind of weapon — the self-bow.
This change happened on multiple continents (though bows never really caught on in Australia, where atlatls tended to yield only later, to firearms).
The first bows we know of conclusively, from archaeology, come from pine arrow shafts found at a bog site in Germany called Stellmoor, dating to around 11,000 years ago. Though, it's possible bows were in use much earlier in Africa.
Why did the bow replace the atlatl, and what social consequences may have followed from that shift? These are questions being asked by University of Wyoming PhD candidate in anthropology Brigid Sky Grund in a new paper in American Anthropologist, from which I took the above information.
As Grund notes in the article, most theories about this shift have pointed to the bow's greater accuracy and faster reload rate in hunting smaller fauna or in warfare. But Grund herself is looking instead at a different factor: the comparative learnability of each weapon. She writes [...] NPR