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Widdekind

Weapons first fashioned 6 million years ago ?

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Chimpanzees use stone tools, and fashion sharpened spears (by chewing). Chimps & Humans diverged, evolutionarily, about 6 million years ago*.

*
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This strongly suggests, that the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of Chimps & Humans made & used stone tools & spears, before about 6 million years ago.

 

So, seemingly, various creatures have been crafting increasingly sophisticated weapons systems for many millions of years. The spear, specifically, may be much more ancient than typically proclaimed.

 

Possible ? Plausible ?

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What's the possibility that animals learned from each other?

I mean, if I saw a crow bend something to get a worm... or perhaps a bird use a stick to stab at worms in a tree, then I suspect of decent intelligence that I might steal the bird's technique to get some grub myself.

 

I think it's plausible to assume animals have taken skills from other animals.

I don't know if animals were intelligent enough to grind things into stone tools, though.

 

We continue to copy techniques to this day when studying regeneration and the such.

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I don't think that suggests that, necessarily. Even octopi have shown some tool use, and I think it's a pretty safe bet our last common ancestor with them wasn't using tools. And it's not like the concept of the spear is instinctive. The chimps that use them have to be taught by other chimps. It's culture, not instinct.

 

But is it plausible that the LCA of humans and chimps used crude tools? I guess. It was probably pretty clever. (I don't actually know anything about it.)

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Modern chimps have been observed to use tools. What one would need is evidence of tool use in the past, and the kind of tool use, before making leading and suggestive conclusions about the LCA and the arc of "crafting increasingly sophisticated weapons systems"

 

Your conclusions do not follow. They are hypotheses, at best.

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Yes, the most plausible hypothesis is that the common ancestor also showed this behavior, based on parsimony (the hypothesis with the fewest evolutionary events should be preferred).

 

Honestly, it's not really surprising, though. What's the practical difference between a chimp using a sharpened stick to remove a prey item from a hollow tree and a Galapagos cactus finch doing the same with a cactus spine or a crow doing the same with a bit of wire?

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Should we equating 'using tools' in human and that in chimps? If they are equal, then yes, by parsimony it is plausible to deduce the LCA also did the same.

But I suspect they are not equal, and largely invented (evolved) independently. If two are not equal, parsimony no longer support the argument.

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Why would they be unequal? We use more tools, but we can still use the same tools chimps do (and will, in survival situations).

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Don't you think 'using tools' is a rather gross term, that 'being able to use material other than biological material from oneself' is coined? So I would say, because the term has such a wide spectrum, for it to be independently evolved should not be surprising.

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There's a broad sense, yes, but also a more specific sense that the OP was talking about, namely making one particular tool, a spear.

 

Tool use *is* widely convergent, but there is also parsimony. If a crow and a rook can use tools, it's very likely a raven can too (since they're all corvids).

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A spear is a particular tool, but it's also an extremely basic one. Basically combining "sharpness" with "extended reach" in the simplest way possible. It's certainly plausible to me that the LCA did something similar (and it would be surprising if there was no tool use at all), but I don't think it's far-fetched at all to imagine independent development. In fact, if the LCA didn't use spears, it would be surprising if humans and chimps didn't eventually start doing so independently, since they're both smart enough and it's so rudimentary.

 

Also, some evidence against the LCA with spears is that in fact not all chimps do this. Only a couple of groups do. In other words, it is not an instinctive behavior. It is part of the "cultures" of those groups, and is passed on by demonstration and imitation. That such a thing would last 6 million years essentially unchanged in some groups but not others seems rather far-fetched, frankly.

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Also, some evidence against the LCA with spears is that in fact not all chimps do this. Only a couple of groups do. In other words, it is not an instinctive behavior. It is part of the "cultures" of those groups, and is passed on by demonstration and imitation. That such a thing would last 6 million years essentially unchanged in some groups but not others seems rather far-fetched, frankly.

 

A stronger circumstantial case can be built about use of (simple) "sticks & stones". For, all Hominins (humans, chimps & bonobos) wield, as weapons, such simple "sticks & stones". According to the PBS documentary The Last Great Ape (DVD), when bonobo males meet another bonobo clan, they initially react allot like common chimps — grabbing & shaking tree branches, and picking up sticks to brandish as clubs. And, I understand, that all Hominins chuck rocks at potential predators.

 

Thus, the basic proposition, that the LCA wielded weapons, such as (simple) sticks & stones, surely seems to stand. But it is somewhat less likely that the LCA crafted & fashioned weapons, such as shaped & sharpened spears & skeweres. Such could quite conceivably represent independent developments, during the last ~7 Myr.


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Honestly, it's not really surprising, though. What's the practical difference between a chimp using a sharpened stick to remove a prey item from a hollow tree and a Galapagos cactus finch doing the same with a cactus spine or a crow doing the same with a bit of wire?

 

Is this a native, wild behavior ? Like Otters cracking open seashells w/ rocks, or like Monkeys cracking open nuts w/ rocks, this represents "hunting" — using a tool to capture calories for food.

 

But, are there any Terrestrial animals, besides Hominins' simple sticks & stones, known to wield "weapons" — tools used to cause death & wounds in warfare ??

 

(Thanks in advance for any information.)

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Wait, do bonobos use weapons against one another? When you say "brandish as clubs," do you mean actually hitting each other with them, or just waving them around as part of a display?

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Wait, do bonobos use weapons against one another? When you say "brandish as clubs," do you mean actually hitting each other with them, or just waving them around as part of a display?

 

Chimpanzees brandish branches as clubs, both as part of display, and -- if tensions escalate -- during aggressive acts against other Chimps.

 

According to said cited show (as per PP), Bonobo males begin brandishing branches as clubs, during displays... until the females assert their authority, the males "give up", and quiet down. The impression is given, that the only reason Bonobo males don't actually carry clubs into combat, is b/c the females block the behavior -- left to their own devices, Bonobo males act essentially the same as Chimps. Such apparently indicates the important impact of culture on primate behavior.


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I'd like to clarify, and ask again, if any other Earth animals "wield weapons" -- for example, do elephants pick up logs, in the trunks, to throw at lions, or, do birds pick up rocks, in their talons, to drop on potential predators ?? Do Galapagos Finches "joust" against each other, w/ cactus spines ??

 

(Thanks again in advance for any info.)


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Terrain Use as Tool Use

 

According to the NGC documentary Relentless Enemies (DVD;book), lionesses will herd wildebeests past particular types of terrain, which help the hunters, by providing positions for ambushes, by other members of the pride. This amounts to "using external objects" to help in hunting, and so is somewhat similar to Monkeys & Otters using stones ("external objects") to help in acquiring calories.

 

Now, (some) Chimps go one better, and actually shape & sharpen their spear-skewers. This would be analogous to lionesses (say) artificially modifying terrain, to help in hunting, by building blinds from logs & other lumber lying around (say).

 

Are there any other (Earth) species known to modify terrain to help in hunting (creating camouflage, constructing traps, etc.) ??

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Chimpanzees brandish branches as clubs, both as part of display, and -- if tensions escalate -- during aggressive acts against other Chimps.

 

So chimps actually hit each other with branches? Sorry to insist on the clarifications, but it seems significant, and it's not clear what "brandishing during aggressive acts" means, precisely.

 

According to said cited show (as per PP), Bonobo males begin brandishing branches as clubs, during displays... until the females assert their authority, the males "give up", and quiet down. The impression is given, that the only reason Bonobo males don't actually carry clubs into combat, is b/c the females block the behavior -- left to their own devices, Bonobo males act essentially the same as Chimps.

 

The impression? If that behavior hasn't actually been observed, I think that's too big a leap. Waving a branch around does not imply a threat of using the branch as a weapon. It could just be "look at how angry I am, look what I'm doing to these branches." In fact that seems more likely, if using them as weapons against one another has never been observed.

 

So again, have there been observed instances of weapons actually used (not just brandished) within the species, rather than just against predators or prey?

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I kinda lean toward, Spears as first weapons, However Probably hand thrown

stones were the first weapons. HOW about harsh language or verble screams

I just thought of something, If early man had very limited intelligence,

What made them realise that striking an animal with some kind of primitive, would kill it. Something in there minds made them come to the conclusion that

this would stop the animal, I think this was primeval assimulation of the situation at hand.

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Along those lines, I want to offer a definition for "tool for hunting" vs. "weapon for fighting", based upon Animal Psychology.

 

Please ponder the NGC documentary Eternal Enemies (DVD), about the bloody brawls between lions & hyenas, in southern Africa:

 

Although we romanticize lions as mighty kings of the jungle, their reign is in fact a tenuous one. It is challenged daily in southern Africa by vicious packs of hyenas that compete for prey. Between the two species exists an ancient feud, and it unfolds in Eternal Enemies with all the drama of the warring Capulets and Montagues. Watch as lions bring down a zebra, only to be attacked themselves by a pack of hyenas that chases them into the trees. Glowering, the big cats watch as the thieves devour their dinner. Days later the lions exact revenge, killing the hyena leader but leaving her uneaten as a warning to the rest of the clan.

 

During the documentary, the hyenas kill the cubs of one lioness, leading to the said cited "revenge" raid. Watching the scenes on screen, it certainly seems like you can viscerally feel the roiling rage of the lions & lionesses against the heckling & harassing hyenas.

 

Now, the Animal Psychology of this rage & hatred has to be different & distinct, from pure predation. Predation, concerned w/ capturing calories, is cold & calculated, and mainly motivated by some sense of starvation ("I'm hungry, so I'll hunt"). But Aggression is concerned w/ inflicting injury, in the heat of passion, and is mainly motivated by anger & rage ("I'm angry, so I'll attack").

 

Stated in simple speak, these differences -- "cold calculated hunting when hungry" vs. "hot & enraged angry attack" -- could clarify the categorization, of "helpful hunting tools" vs. "wielded weapons". Stated in simple speak, if a tool is used to help in hunting, while hungry, in a cold & calculated way, it's to be treated as a tool. But, if a tool is used, during the peak of passion, having a hot & roiling rage, as an expression of anger, to attack, it's to be treated as a wielded weapon.

 

Animal Psychology, based upon the state of mind of the animal employing the tool, at the time, could categorize & classify the type of tool (help in hunting vs. wielded weapon). To wit, focusing on the "kind of consciousness", of the organism, at the time of tool use, could conceivably classify & categorize the type of that tool -- and, in particular, whether it's a wielded weapon.


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I want to point out, too, that according to the PBS website I cited above, as well as the Discovery Channel documentary Discovering Ardi (DVD), since the Hominin LCA ~7 Mya, along the line leading to modern man, males' conspicuous canine teeth started shrinking from the very first. (Today, modern men have no noticeable canines, compared to the conspicuously fierce fangs of chimps.)

 

Now, amongst most male primates, such conspicuous canines function as fangs for ferocious grimaces of aggression. So, as seen in said cited DC documentary, the remarkable reduction of males' canines probably implies that bitings became an increasingly infrequent & unimportant part of male aggression.

 

And, this is completely consistent, w/ claims that clubs, as wielded weapons, were an increasingly important part of male aggression amongst early "proto-human" Hominins. (In essence, male "proto-humans" outsourced their aggression, from teeth to tools, the former dramatically decreasing in size, whilst the latter inexorably increased in sophistication.) If so, this would imply that human evolution has been profoundly influenced by tools & technologies, for roughly 7 Myr.

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Hm, archer fish spit water to knock prey into the water. Does that make it a hunting weapon? A tool?

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Hm, archer fish spit water to knock prey into the water. Does that make it a hunting weapon? A tool?

 

That's an interesting case to consider. Technically, water is an "external object", used to help hunt, so it'd be a "hunting tool".

 

However, the medium that an animal lives in (water, air) seems to be in such intimate & continuous contact w/ the animal, that it doesn't require the same kind of logical leaps to try to use as a tool.

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