It took more than two million years for early humans to create the bow and arrow after they started making tools, say scientists.
Our ancestors were able to create tools around 2.5 million years ago – but they first made bows and arrows 64,000 years ago.
The invention of the weapons was a huge leap for our ancestors, enabling them to hunt far more effectively, researchers from the University of Tubingen reported recently in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal.
The researchers reconstructed the process by which our ancestors invented bows – and found that the ‘giant leap’ in our history only occurred relatively recently.
According to scientists, early man first started using tools to manufacture other tools around 2.5 million years ago.
But the bow was not first used until 64,000 years ago, when its invention greatly increased the flexibility of their activities.
University of Tubingen researchers said that manufacturing the bow was a challenge to early man and reconstructed the steps he would have needed to take.
They say the bow and arrow made up a complementary tool set – with the interchangeable arrows working in tandem with the ‘controlling element’, the bow.
Making the bow took 22 raw materials and three semi-finished goods (binding materials and multi-component glue) as well as five production phases. Further steps were needed to make the complementary arrows.
“The bow and arrow have long been regarded as a possible indicator of culture in prehistoric times. Bows and arrows appear to have been in use for some 64,000 years, given evidence from South Africa,” the Daily Mail quoted researcher Miriam Haidle as saying.
“Until recently, their significance in human cognitive ability was unclear.
“This study was able to show a high level of complexity in the use of tools at an early stage in the history of homo sapiens,” Haidle added.
Other primates such as chimps are able to use tools, but complex processes such as making bows are beyond them.