Neanderthals used boats much before modern humans

March 1st, 2012 - 8:44 pm ICT by IANS  

London, March 1 (IANS) Our extinct cousins, the Neanderthals, were sailing the seas about 50,000 years before us, according to a study.

Modern humans took to the seas 50,000 years ago, having first appeared between 100,000 and 300,000 years ago.

However, stone Neanderthal tools dating back at least 100,000 years have been found on the Greek mainland and on the Greek islands of Lefkada, Kefalonia and Zakynthos, which means they must have been travelling in boats, Daily Mail reported Thursday.

Some have theorised that the tools ended up in these locations because when the Neanderthals lived in the Mediterranean, the islands were physically connected to the mainland.

George Ferentinos, of the University of Patras in Greece, has compiled data that shows the length of time the islands have been surrounded by water matches the age of the tools found on them, the New Scientist magazine reports.

He has determined that sea levels 100,000 years ago used to be 390 feet lower than they are today because of Earth’s much larger ice caps.

But there still would have been around 180 metres of water around Greece because the seabed sinks to 300 metres.

The journey to the islands is between three and seven miles and Ferentinos is convinced that Neanderthals made regular trips on the water, the Mail added.

Neanderthals were by no means the first hominins to use boats. As Nature magazine has reported, one million-year-old stone tools have been found on the Indonesian island of Flores.

Neanderthals appeared around 700,000 years later.

They had thick set features and heavy foreheads. They were around six inches shorter on average than modern people, but their brains were 20 percent bigger.

They were excellent hunters. They supplemented their diet of deer, bison, boar and bear with seal, fish, shellfish, nuts, grains and plants.

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