Laziness and lack of strategic planning may have cost Homo erectus to lose the race for survival, reveals a study by the Australian National University (ANU).
This primitive human ancestor may have hastened its extinction by not giving 100 percent when it came to food gathering and tool making strategies, reports ABC News.
The study, published last month in the journal PLOS One, argues that Homo erectus was too lazy to survive. In fact, it seems that the ancient hominin had the “least-effort strategy” of making tools and gathering resources among the archaic human populations of the Early Stone Age, uncovered a recent archaeological dig in the Arabian Peninsula.
“To make their stone tools they would use whatever rocks they could find lying around their camp, which were mostly of comparatively low quality to what later stone tool makers used,” said study lead author Dr. Ceri Shipton, a researcher at the ANU School of Culture, History and Language.
Too Lazy To Survive
According to the archaeologist, the site explored by his team was located nearby a large rocky outcrop “of quality stone,” found “just a short distance away up a small hill.”
However, it seems that the Homo erectus living in the area during the Lower Paleolithic, some 2.5 million years ago, didn’t bother to climb the hill and get access to better quality stones for their tools. Instead, they preferred to go for more easily accessible bits of rock that happened to roll down the hill, without even trying to search any further.
The expedition — carried out in 2014 at the site of Saffaqah, which lies about 200 kilometers west of Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh — also inspected the rocky outcrop near the archaeological site and found no signs of Homo erectus ever being there, notes ANU.
“When we looked at the rocky outcrop there were no signs of any activity, no artifacts and no quarrying of the stone,” says Shipton. “They knew it was there, but because they had enough adequate resources they seem to have thought, ‘why bother?'”
This behavior was is in stark contrast with the much later Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, and Denisovans. Previous discoveries have shown that these hominins went to great lengths to gather resources and even climbed mountains to search for good tool-making stone, which they carried over long distances back to camp.
In fact, a recent study suggests that Neanderthals may have even built boats to sail to the Mediterranean, the Inquisitr reported earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Homo erectus appears to have lacked the same curiosity and adventurous spirit that pushed other hominins to technological progress.
“They really don’t seem to have been pushing themselves,” said Shipton.
No Planning Ahead
Aside from this apparent idleness, Homo erectus also showed signs that they were unable to adapt to the changing climate around them, the archaeologists discovered.
As the rivers that provided fresh water to the area began to dry under the effects of a warming climate, the Homo erectus that occupied the region stayed put instead of searching for resources farther out.
“They never strayed very far from fresh water sources,” said Shipton.
At the same time, their tool-making strategies remained the same, despite the changing environment, showing that Homo erectus were both very conservative and reluctant to journey and put in an effort to find life-saving resources.
“They don’t appear to have been adapting very much […] and when the environment got too difficult for them, when it got very dry, they just went extinct,” Shipton points out.
All this suggests that Homo erectus were not so great at planning ahead and “were very short-term in their view,” notes the archaeologist
“They would be planning just a few hours, perhaps a day ahead at most,” he said.
By comparison, Homo sapiens and Neanderthals engaged in seasonal migration, which means they were “planning perhaps for the year ahead,” Shipton pointed out.