Archaeologists just made an unexpected discovery in the Swabian Jura mountain range, where they found Neanderthal tools dated 50,000 years ago, during the Middle Paleolithic period. They found that Neanderthals at that time employed complex tool-making techniques, as evident from the tools they found.

Since the 20th century, scientists have been finding a valuable wealth of knowledge in that area, particularly at a rock shelter known as Heidenschmiede, located near Heidenheim in southern Germany.

 Neanderthals More Complex, Advanced Species Than Previously Thought, Study Suggests
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
A reconstructed Neanderthal society based on the Krapina Neanderthal site

Middle Paleolithic Neanderthals Used Complex Tool-Making Techniques

In the study, titled "Adaptive Capacity and Flexibility of the Neanderthals at Heidenschmiede (Swabian Jura) With Regard to Core Reduction Strategies," published in PLOS One, researchers documented pieces of sophisticated Neanderthal tools they recovered from Heidenschmiede.

According to Express, these tools would have required a great deal of planning and forethought to create, which suggests that neanderthals may have been more complex and advanced species than previously thought.

Benjamin Schürch, a researcher from the Institute of Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology at Tuebingen, said that the discovery of the tools was first published in 1931, but little has happened about it.

This latest research is the first to describe an investigation of the sophisticated Neanderthals tools composed of bone and stone tools dated back between 50,000 to 42,000 years ago during the Middle Paleolithic period. It was a time when the ancestors of modern humans were yet to come to Europe.

Sci-News reported that Neanderthals produced blades, scrapers, single-hand axes, and spearheads. But its complex tool-making techniques are what amazes the researchers. They pointed out that such complex techniques were previously undocumented.

Study lead author Dr. Berrin Çep said they are now seeking to refit the pieces of the tools to gain insights on how Neanderthals from Heidenschmiede during that period have worked. Their analysis tells them that basic shapes of tools were first made from stone cores that were later processed to become sophisticated tools, requiring visualization, creativity, and flexible planning.

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Neanderthals May Have Excellent Working Memory

Researchers explain that reconstructions of the Neanderthal tools from Heidenschmiede confirm that complex tool-making techniques were employed in manufacturing the tools. Although rarely seen, it is the first time that it was found in the Swabian Jura.

Furthermore, they also showed that Middle Paleolithic Neanderthals from Heidenschmiede used a branched manufacturing system to apply one core piece of stone. The first evidence was that they used complex tool-making techniques, such as using different strategies in working with the raw material to create the finished product.

According to the university's news release, the study has shown that early humans who worked on the sophisticated tools had an excellent working memory overall. To be more specific, the findings suggest that Neanderthals possessed great mental flexibility, adaptability, and manual dexterity. This also explains why most of the stone tools found were from the Middle Paleolithic period.

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