Scientists believe that early man was a stay-at-home type, performing domestic chores contrary to a brutish hunter with a spear image.
Researchers at Cambridge University found evidence that our early ancestors may have spent most of their time carrying out tedious domestic chores. The Neanderthal remains show they had very big right arms, some 50 % stronger than their left arms, which has previously been put down to hunting with spears.
However, a new analysis suggests hunting would not have had this effect, and their bone structure is more likely to be the result of hours spent scraping animal hides to make clothes.
It was the Ice Age when the Neanderthals roamed Europe and they would wear furs to survive the cold.
“The main theory until now is that it was hunting of mammoths and deer, which has coloured our view of the Neanderthal as a hunter. But we have shown it would not have had the effect we have seen on the bones,” said Dr Colin Shaw from PAVE research groups and McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. Shaw’s team used right-handed volunteers to carry out spear throwing and scraping tasks, while the muscle activity in their chest and shoulder, which influences the movement of this upper arm bone, was measured using eletrodes.
It paints a new picture of our caveman ancestors who, if they spent a lot more time at home, could have got involved in cooking, child care, butchering and tool making, the report said.