No, not because they liked to wax their spears.
The unusually powerful right arms of Neanderthals may not be due to a spear-hunting life as once suggested, but rather one often spent scraping animal skins for clothes and shelters, researchers say.
The Neanderthals are our closest known extinct relatives, who were probably less brutish and more like modern humans than commonly portrayed. Their brains were at least as large as ours. They controlled fire, expertly made stone tools, were proficient hunters, lived in complex social groups, buried their dead, and perhaps artfully wore feathers. Genetic research even suggests theyinterbred with modern humans.
Neanderthals apparently had unusually strong right arms, judging by their right humerus — the long arm bone underlying the biceps and triceps — which often boasted protrusions with which to attach powerful muscles.
In comparison, scraping tasks led to much higher muscle activity on the right side than on the left, suggesting they may explain the details often seen in Neanderthal skeletons.
“While hunting was important to Neanderthals, our research suggests that much of their time was spent performing other tasks, such as preparing the skins of large animals,” Shaw said.
- Why Neanderthals Sported Arms Like Popeye (thegreatone22.wordpress.com)
- A Conversation With Chris Stringer: Chris Stringer on the Origins and Rise of Modern Humans (nytimes.com)
- Neanderthals ate their greens (3quarksdaily.com)
- Is resurrecting Neandertals unethical? | Gene Expression (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- What happened to the Neanderthals? (thepoodleanddogblog.typepad.com)