A leading archaeologist claims that cavemen were far more sophisticated than their dimwitted reputation suggests.
Professor John J Shea, of Stony Brook University, New York, says evidence of early humans’ weapons, symbols and burials 195,000 years ago shows they had more in common with us than we like to think.
He claims Homo sapiens emerged all at once, ‘not as modern-looking people first and as a modern-behaving people later.’
Professor Shea started researching ‘behavioral variability’ in 2002 after excavating a 195,000-year-old site in Ethiopia.
“Nothing about the stone tools ... struck me as archaic or primitive,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying in his article, Refuting a Myth About Human Origins.
“We need to discard an incorrect and outdated idea about human evolution, the belief that prehistoric Homo sapiens can be divided into “archaic” and “modern” humans.”
It follows research suggesting that a caveman did not only rely on animals for their diet but also dined on processed plant-based foods.
Powerful microscopes discovered traces of starch grains on grinding stones recovered from archaeological sites in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic.
It has also been claimed that cavemen were better parents than we are.
Today's practice of leaving babies to cry, keeping them in buggies and car seats for long periods would be anathema to early humans.
Their children were cuddled and carried about, never left to cry, spent lots of time outdoors and were breastfed for years rather than months.
And the fact cavemen had to rely on their wits should prove they were not thick, Professor Shea claims.
He explained: “In the unforgiving Pleistocene environments in which our species evolved, reproductive isolation was the penalty for stupidity, and lions and wolves were its cure.
“In other words: No villages, no village idiots. If any such cognitive “winner take all” wipeout event ever happened, it was probably among earlier hominins or during the evolutionary differentiation of our species from these hominin ancestors.”
The study has been published by American Scientist magazine.