Tetrapod Zoology

War rhinos (teaser)

i-86b40d5ca8cba9e04d7f526c18c42432-war rhino 2.jpg

Everybody’s talking about it: that most controversial of ideas… were rhinos ever used in warfare? Sure, you’ve seen armoured war elephants, but what about armoured war rhinos? Well, there’s good news, and there’s bad news. Stay tuned, for all will be revealed. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you might need to see the movie 300 first, or at least its trailer

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanovi?
    March 19, 2007

    …or its reviews (accessible via Pharyngula).

  2. #2 Mike
    March 19, 2007

    “… what about armoured war rhinos?”

    Old hat. What about armoured war rhinogradentians?

  3. #3 Alan Kellogg
    March 19, 2007

    On the SM Stirling mailing list some months back we had a discussion of “domesticated” rhinos. It was part of a thread on the fate of San Diego County in Stirling’s “Dies the Fire trilogy”.

    I figured that given the southern white rhino’s propensity for bonding with its human caretakers, that rhinos released into the wild after The Change would tend to seek out and join up with human bands. For safety, companionship, and emotional comfort. But, other than that, southern white rhinos would simply be too unsteady and too ‘independent’ for use as a mount of any sort. maybe on special occasions such as parades and festivals, but that’s about it.

    Rhinos are just dumb. That’s what really makes them dangerous. The southern white rhinos at the San Diego Wild Animal Park love the food and attention they get from people, but the clumsy nits tend to accidentally step on and knock down things (and people) they don’t intend to. So you have to be careful around them.

    Using a rhino in war would be like using somebody with an extremely low intelligence. He wouldn’t understand what was going on, he’d get distracted very easily, he’d be hard to handle, and you’d feel like a heel doing it.

  4. #4 R. Arthur Wilderson
    March 20, 2007

    I’m holding out for armored war indricotheres.

  5. #5 Brian X
    March 20, 2007

    Jared Diamond wrote that if the ancestors of the Bantu and other sub-Saharan Africans could have domesticated the rhino, they probably would have, and could easily have overrun the Roman Empire. So I’m inclined to think no.

  6. #6 Matt Mullenix
    March 20, 2007

    You might be interested to read Jean Pierre Hallet’s wonderful Congo Kitabu, in which, among other adventures, Hallet attempts to train a tame rhino as a mount.

    He was unsuccessful and concluded the task would be impossible on a large scale.

    But note that amazing feats have been accomplished with trained animals in the past. The Egyptians trained all manner of wild cats to serve the same roles as dogs do today. The Romans trained lions to hunt like coursing hounds. Of course, wild cheetahs have been used for centuries for same. In the case of the lions, I read that training them to hunt was considered more difficult than that with cheetahs, but that with access to thousands of animals, compliant individuals were not hard to find.

    What seems “probable” today with our near-complete ignorance of wild animal husbandry might well have been possible or even commonplace before.

  7. #7 johannes
    March 20, 2007

    I’m holding out for armored war indricotheres.

    War elasmotheres, too

    Jared Diamond wrote that if the ancestors of the Bantu and other sub-Saharan Africans could have domesticated the rhino, they probably would have, and could easily have overrun the Roman Empire.

    Probably not. The Seleukids had plenty of war elephants, and they were defeated by the Romans in the west, and the Parthians in the east. By the way, many animals used in war (elephants) or hunting (cheetahs) are not truly domesticated, because they are not bred in captivity, but taken from the wild population.

  8. #8 Mike
    March 20, 2007

    Even without our near-complete ignorance of wild animal husbandry, none of our ancestors seem to have domesticated rhinos (nor, as far as we know, even tried). Nobody domesticated zebras either. Nor the sub-Saharan African elephants.

    The use in war of elephants, much more tractable than rhinos, isn’t encouraging for the use of war rhinos. Elephants were a sort of ancient tactical nuke: as likely to do harm to their own troops as to the enemy.

  9. #9 Tommy Tyrberg
    March 20, 2007

    Zebras have been tried repeatedly with scant success.

    African Elephants have been succesfully domesticated (by the Carthaginians and also in modern times), but are considerably trickier to handle than asian elephants which are practically predomesticated.

    I agree that of the three rhino species I have field experience with (black, white and indian) the white is the only one that is remotely possible. It is fairly gregarious, calm and unaggressive which the other two species decidedly are not. However I agree that it is pretty dumb and clumsy. This makes it easy to dodge on the rare occasions when it attacks (I have this at second hand from a park employee in Umfolozi/Hluhluwe, never having had reason to dodge one myself).

  10. #10 nemo ramjet
    March 20, 2007

    “…Jared Diamond wrote that if the ancestors of the Bantu and other sub-Saharan Africans could have domesticated the rhino, they probably would have, and could easily have overrun the Roman Empire…”

    Overrunning empires has much more to with economic prowess than baroque weapons, I’m afraid. Even with war Indricotheres or even regiments of armored Amphicoelias, the Romans could’ve bought the Bantu away any day.

    If, on the other hand, the bantu had huge rhino-driven caravans to transport masses of goods across a politically-unified sub saharan, well, that could’ve been a different story.

  11. #11 Tengu
    March 20, 2007

    http://www.forgeworld.co.uk/rhinoxtl.htm

    Ok, ok, you would have to be as big and mean as an ogre to try…

    But speaking on strange mounts, I read somewhere (sadly cant recall where) that in Tsarist Russia, it was illegal to tame moose.

    Moose could travel fast though the taiga, and so a rider could use one to esacpe from a gulag.

  12. #12 Smilodon
    March 20, 2007

    What about the rhinogradentian post you promised?

  13. #13 Mike
    March 20, 2007

    “African Elephants have been succesfully domesticated (by the Carthaginians and also in modern times), but are considerably trickier to handle than asian elephants which are practically predomesticated.”

    The elephants the Carthaginians trained were a different variety from the sub-Saharan African elephants, smaller and more tractable. There is no longer any wild population of these elephants.

  14. #14 Brian X
    March 21, 2007

    nemo ramjet:

    Well, who knows? Sub-Saharan Africa was further ahead technologically than they were societally back in the day (I could be wrong, but didn’t their Iron Age predate most of the great sub-Saharan civilizations?) and there really is an extraordinary amount of mineral wealth in Africa to begin with. Diamond’s main thesis in Guns, Germs and Steel basically amounted to the idea that all humans are capable of operating on approximately the same intellectual level, so it’s primarily a matter of which civilization catches the right breaks. In this case, it was the fractured but fertile Mediterranean basin, edging out an overly homogenized China to create the dominant civilization of the world as we currently know it; Africa lacked domesticable animals, while the Americas lacked almost everything except for a few specific food crops such as corn. But the people were and are all essentially the same…

    I don’t know how accurate everything in the book is, but there’s definitely a lot of good food for discussion in there.

  15. #15 R. Arthur Wilderson
    March 21, 2007

    I don’t recall Diamond’s statement on rhinos and romans in Guns Germs and Steel; I assume it was hyperbole. Why would the Batu want to conquer to Romans anyhow?

    Guns Germs and Steels does give a credible explanation of why rhinos haven’t been domesticated on a large scale however; indeed, the suitability of only a very few animals for domestication is one of the central themes of the book.

    Diamond mentions six essential criteria for domestication (which is distinct from taming, as it involves longterm raising and husbandry over many generations):

    1) The animal must be able to subsist primarily upon vegetable matter. Domesticating lions beyond making pets for a few Roman playboys would be economically unfeasible, as one would have to raise all the animals to feed the lion. While the benefits of a tame lion are not to be understated, there’s no way a society could profit from an animal so expensive to feed. Similarly, it would be rather bothersome and irritating to domesitcate a Hawaiian honeycreeper, since finding the one particular flower it feeds upon would be a hassle.

    2) Growth Rate is typically rapid in domesticated animals. Here’s where rhinos flunk; they grow too slowly. People aren’t going to wait around for their herds to mature, they need a reasonably fast turnover so they can eat!

    3) Assorted quirks of captive breeding can sabotage domestication. Cheetahs, for example, don’t breed well in captivity.

    4) Temper matters. Rhinos would probably do OK here. Humans are remarkably persistant; after all, they managed to domesticate the aurochs, which was by all accounts a tough customer. So rhinos, yes, if they grew faster. Cape Buffalo, hippos or cassowaries? No.

    5) Domesticated animals must be fairly even tempered. Wild horses are flighty, but not so much that they cannot be kept under control the majority of the time by an alert human and fences. Furthermore, when horses flee, they tend to go together. Imagine trying to herd something with the mentality of a pheasant under pressure. When the livestock runs away, it does well to have them all go in the same direction.

    6) Social structure is critical. Rhinos fail here again. Domestic animals need a heirarchical social structure that humans can cleverly insert themselves into to take control. If elephants just reproduced a bit faster, they would probably be barnyard animals because they do this so well.

    These of course, are Mister Diamond’s ideas, not mine. I’m sure that exceptions can be found, but Diamond’s ideas concern wide generalizations and trends. Generally speaking, no animal has ever been domesticated that does not meet the above criteria, and certainly no historically significant one ever has.

  16. #16 Sordes
    March 21, 2007

    I think a herbivorous diet is no essential for domestication. Cats and dogs are the best contrary evidence, even if dogs are partly omnivorous. There are also several other predatory animals like ferrets which were domesticated. If you look at the (stupid) tries to maintain unusual colours in lions and tigers, you can see here also a first step of real domestication, because theis animals are at the beginning of genetic altering. Lions and tigers are easy to breed in captivity (in fact often too easy and zoo dont know what to do with all the offspring). Today meat is very cheap, and as also body parts which are not consumed by humans can be used to feed them, it would not be very expensive to raise a stock of tigers. Tigers grow very fast, and after one year of so, they would be big enough to get slaugthered. The fur alone would be very valuable, especially from white of golden tigers. After a longer domestication period, there would be also a lot more colours and pattern. The skeletons could be sold as taxidermy stuff or on superstitous asians, same thing with different body parts and the meat. It would be (theoretically) no big problem to breed a large stock of tigers or lion (or ligers?), feeding them with cheap meat and slaughter them to sell their bodies and furs for a small fortune. If there would be enough specimens, there could be a selection for fastest growth, body size, tameness and colour.
    In crocodiles there is also no reason against domestication, although they are strictly carnivorous. In general the crocodiles on farms are feed with meat and fish garbage, which is normally useless for humans. The attempt to breed white crocodiles are also the first steps for genetic altering. In fact they could be even more productive, if they would select for fast growth, and as they have thousands of hatchlings each years, there are surely always some especially fast-growing ones.
    The social structure is also not very important, as long as the animals are not unusally confrontational. Cats were once solitairy, and in general they are still today, but they are also domesticated. Many normally solitairy animals show also the ability to live in groups when they are in zoos, even predators like bears and tigers.
    The act of domestication can also occur very fast. There were once attempts to create some kind of pet-fox in Russia, where they selected in fox farms the most “friendly” specimens. The result was an animal which was not only similar to dogs in its behavior, but also in its overall look, with floppy ears and other traits which are found in many breeds of dogs.
    There would be many animals we could domesticate, for example cojotes and other wild dogs, several wild bovines and even reptiles or marsupials.

  17. #17 David Marjanovi?
    March 21, 2007

    There was an experiment to domesticate elephants in the Belgian Congo for work. It was a success, and the reasons for why we don’t see them all over the place today are largely political. Some of the elephants and trainers are still alive.

    Source: TV. (Before anyone asks me for a pdf! :o) )

  18. #18 shawn
    March 21, 2007

    I don’t have any degrees in this matter, but from my understanding it’s always been suggested one of the first steps toward true domestication requires that the animal (naturally) lives in herds, communal environments, or is born in a litter setting where heirarchies of dominance are already in place. Rhinos don’t usually fit any of those criteria.

    Now, armouring up a couple of rhinos and setting them loose on an enemy might be very damaging, but like mentioned before, the poor things aren’t very smart so they would probably trample their own troops by mistake. Atleast until they lost interest and wandered off.

  19. #19 JW Tan
    March 21, 2007

    Sordes said:

    Today meat is very cheap, and as also body parts which are not consumed by humans can be used to feed them, it would not be very expensive to raise a stock of tigers. Tigers grow very fast, and after one year of so, they would be big enough to get slaugthered. The fur alone would be very valuable, especially from white of golden tigers. After a longer domestication period, there would be also a lot more colours and pattern. The skeletons could be sold as taxidermy stuff or on superstitous asians, same thing with different body parts and the meat. It would be (theoretically) no big problem to breed a large stock of tigers or lion (or ligers?), feeding them with cheap meat and slaughter them to sell their bodies and furs for a small fortune. If there would be enough specimens, there could be a selection for fastest growth, body size, tameness and colour.

    Sadly, this is no longer theoretical. There are tiger farms in China (mainly for penises and bones to go into soup – superstitious Asians again). There was an expose here in the UK a few weeks ago.

    Link here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=441632&in_page_id=1770

  20. #20 Hai~Ren
    March 21, 2007

    > I’m holding out for armored war indricotheres.

    > War elasmotheres, too

    I’m personally holding out for armored war mammoths or deinotheres rampaging on the steppes. Or armored war entelodonts and brontotheres. A few Andrewsarchus, Hyaenodon, Pachycrocuta or short-faced bear to attack cavalry and infantry the way the Romans used mastiffs would also be really kick-ass. =)

  21. #21 Sordes
    March 21, 2007

    There is a big difference between domestication and taming. Elephants were never domesticated. To domesticate an animal, they must reproduce for several generations under human managment. Humans can domesticate them directly by selecting offspring and pairing selected males with selected females, or indirectly, as the animals which get best along with humans, for example because they are calmer and tamer by nature, can have more offspring. As long as there is no genetic modification to the wild form, an animal is not domesticated. Many animals life since several generations with humans, in zoos or private captivity, but are still identical with their wild relatives.
    Taming is completely different, because it has no effect to the physiology of the animal itself. Even adult wild-caught elephants can get tamed, but thats no domestication.
    Many animals are tameable, even solitairy ones like foxes, tigers, leopards. There is no social systems as found in horses, cattle or wolves, but they can get tamed too.
    By the way, there is a large rhino bull named Tsavo in the circus “Barnum” which can be ridden.
    Some years ago I saw also a very old part of a movie in black and white about Africa. I was really surprised to see a whole (small) herd of rhinos. Today this animals are much more solitairy, but it seems that this was not always so, before thousands of them were shot down.

  22. #22 DDeden
    March 21, 2007

    Honeybees: domesticated producers of high energy anti-microbial (long lasting) honey, some armed with poisons.

    How long have there been beekeepers?

    I thought Hannibal used Indian elephants.

    Seems to me that rhinos could have been kept with cattle from birth and gelded, if there were no dogs maybe rhinos could have acted protectors of the herd? Just exploring the concept.

    Personally, I don’t think humans were ancestral to inland Africa (aside from the Rift), living more likely along the coasts, so not having so much contact with rhinos until the construction of dug-outs allowed safe entry into the interior.

    DDeden

  23. #23 TheBrummell
    March 21, 2007

    Warning: very long comment ahead. Sorry.

    Brian X:
    Jared Diamond wrote that if the ancestors of the Bantu and other sub-Saharan Africans could have domesticated the rhino, they probably would have, and could easily have overrun the Roman Empire. So I’m inclined to think no.

    Thanks for stating my opinion in much better manner than my clumsy attempt a while ago.

    Johannes:
    By the way, many animals used in war (elephants) or hunting (cheetahs) are not truly domesticated, because they are not bred in captivity, but taken from the wild population.

    Mike:
    The use in war of elephants, much more tractable than rhinos, isn’t encouraging for the use of war rhinos. Elephants were a sort of ancient tactical nuke: as likely to do harm to their own troops as to the enemy.

    There’s also an interaction effect with horses. I cannot recall the details, but I remember reading somewhere that even trained cavalry warhorses will not charge elephants. There’s also an interesting statement floating around, taken by some as fact, that there are two patterns of ancient warfare involving elephants:
    1. If one side had elephants and the other did not, the side with the elephants won.
    2. If both sides had elephants, the side with the most elephants lost.

    R. Arthur Wilderson:
    I don’t recall Diamond’s statement on rhinos and romans in Guns Germs and Steel; I assume it was hyperbole. Why would the Batu want to conquer to Romans anyhow?

    It was pretty much straight hyperbole to illustrate a point. I remembered it because the picture that appears in my mind is so darn cool-looking.

    David Marjanović:
    There was an experiment to domesticate elephants in the Belgian Congo for work. It was a success, and the reasons for why we don’t see them all over the place today are
    largely political. Some of the elephants and trainers are still alive.

    I was going to respond to the various comments about domesticated elephants, but Sordes beat me to it. In short, for repetition: taming and domestication are
    different things. Domestication requires many generations and involves genetic modification of a population, at a level just shy of speciation. Diamond makes this point explicitely in Guns, Germs & Steel, and uses asiatic elephants as an example of tamed-not-domesticated animals.

    Hai~Ren:
    I’m personally holding out for armored war mammoths or deinotheres rampaging on the steppes.

    For fun, you could read Ranks of Bronze and its sequel(s) by David Drake. One story involves the deployment in Roman-style warfare of Mammoths ‘resurrected’ and genetically engineered by 22nd-century technology. To get the logic behind that statement, you really need to read the books.

    I’m very much looking forward to Darren’s full treatment of this subject.

  24. #24 Raymond
    March 21, 2007

    War Sloths!Armoured Megatheres with steel claw gloves.
    Same could go for the largest macropodines and stethurines.

    Dive-bombing Argentavis(okay, you’d need people with jockey
    physiques for the bird to get off the ground)

    Might we add terror-birds to the list of prehistoric mastiffs?(just keeping with the largely Cenozoic flavour
    here)

  25. #26 Allen Hazen
    March 21, 2007

    Severral people have impugned the intelligence of rhinoceroses. To which I say:
    (i) Intelligence and cooperativeness aren’t necessarily the same thing;
    (ii) A priori I see no more reason to think the different species of rhinoceros have equal intellectual endowment than there is to think the different species of hominoidea are all equally smart, and
    (iii) Somewhere I read about a zoologist who had done field studies of (African, I think) rhinoceroses and was quoted as thinking they were smarter than horses.
    Snort.

  26. #27 R. Arthur Wilderson
    March 22, 2007

    There’s also an interaction effect with horses. I cannot recall the details, but I remember reading somewhere that even trained cavalry warhorses will not charge elephants. There’s also an interesting statement floating around, taken by some as fact, that there are two patterns of ancient warfare involving elephants:
    1. If one side had elephants and the other did not, the side with the elephants won.
    2. If both sides had elephants, the side with the most elephants lost.

    At Gaugamela Alexander beat Darius, who had elephants while he did not. At Raphia, the Seleucids faced off against the Ptolemies. Both sides had elephants, the Seleucids used Indian elephants and the Ptolemies used a somewhat smaller number of African elephants.

    The Ptolemies won, but not because of the elephants. In fact, thier elephants trampled their own troops, while the Seleucid’s elephants did what they were supposed to. As with most battles of the day, the heavy infantry was the centerpiece.

    Elephants were best used as a disruptive weapon. Horses wouldn’t charge them because they were generally unused to them, especially the smell of them. Camels could be used to similar effect. Infantry unused to elephants might rout at the sight of the beasts, as the sight of an elephants charging at you with bad intentions is understandably terrifying.

    Elephants, however, could not be the main strike force of an army. Elephants are expensive to feed, and as many here have made abundantly clear, were not captive bred in ancient times. Elephants are smart enough to distinguish friend from foe and could be directed against the enemy, but if they were badly frightened or if their mahouts were shot off their backs and could no longer control them, the results were disasterous.

  27. #28 Dr Vector
    March 22, 2007

    Robert Silverberg’s first Majipoor book, Lord Valentine’s Castle, featured a battle between troops riding molitors. From the description, the molitors sounded like multiton snapping turtles. Now there’s a thought.

  28. #29 Dr Vector
    March 22, 2007

    Long as I’m here…

    Darren, have any of your fat posts gotten as many comments as this teaser? It will be interesting to see how many comments the actual war rhino post gets.

  29. #30 johannes
    March 22, 2007

    Or armored war entelodonts and (…) A few Andrewsarchus,

    A wild

    > Or armored war entelodonts and brontotheres. A few Andrewsarchus,

    A wild boar (Sus scrofa) was trained and used by the police in Lower Saxony, Germany during the eighties. This “police pig” gained considerable popularity. It was, however, only used for tracking and searching for drugs, not in a paramilitary riot police role.
    Some whales and dolphins (rather closely related to pigs, entelodonts and mesonychids) have been trained for military purposes, too.

  30. #31 David Marjanovi?
    March 22, 2007

    Personally, I don’t think humans were ancestral to inland Africa (aside from the Rift), living more likely along the coasts

    Then have another look at the fossil record…

  31. #32 DDeden
    March 24, 2007

    “Then have another look at the fossil record…”
    Well, I didn’t say they didn’t die there!

    Regarding riding rhinos, apparently neandertals had broken bones similar to rodeo cowboys, and some ancient wooden spears were found in Europe, perhaps neandertals rode woolly rhinos while carrying lances, to thrust at mammoths? Horses are closely related to rhinos, Plains Indians rode horses to spear bison, Plains Indians also suffered similar wounds to rodeo cowboys.
    DDeden

  32. #33 David Marjanovi?
    March 24, 2007

    Well, I didn’t say they didn’t die there!

    No, but you have failed to explain why they died so often so far away from the coast. Again: there is no science without math, and the worst math is no math at all.

    Regarding riding rhinos, apparently neandertals had broken bones similar to rodeo cowboys, and some ancient wooden spears were found in Europe,

    Wait a little. Those spears are 400,000 years old — much, much older than any Neandertaler. Try to find out more about the bone fractures; couldn’t they have been produced by being thrown over by a mammoth or woolly rhino?

    Also, there is evidence that they didn’t throw their spears, but stabbed their prey with them. Many have a tennis arm of just the sort that’s expected if you hold a lance with two hands, always on the same side of you.

  33. #34 DDeden
    March 24, 2007

    Well, I didn’t say they didn’t die there!

    No, but you have failed to explain why they died so often so far away from the coast.

    so often? Precisely my point, David, they died there (parallel to Antarctic seal carcasses found deep inland far from shores), bones well preserved in the drier regions but usually near wetlands, lakes, and streams while their coastal cousins and near-shore isles residents survived and reproduced, their remains ground by the daily tides and swiftly recycled into new life, like the remains of other coastal tetrapods.

    The butted hand-axe/adze (typically found waterside with trees) enabled construction of primitive dug-outs (still used in riparian Africa and elsewhere), which allowed colonizing the inland waterways previously too dangerous for early humans, the inland predators had no instinctual recognition of floating logs as prey, and rivers allowed clear vision/shooting not often found in the surrounding forests. Since both prey and predator species need freshwater daily, these dug-outs provided safe hunting and fishing largely out of reach of terrestrial dangers, allowing unarmed pregnant women and small children to exist in the interior, and allowed easier trade with the coastal populations. The first spears were probably like the measuring stick/wading stick used by the female gorilla at the Ndoki swamp, sharpened at one end like the sharpened bushbaby spears used by young female chimps, in use by by early humans to propel their dugouts and also spear game, at estuaries and later upstream.
    When the young males got antsy, they could always hop out and go for a run on the savanna with the kitty cats, leaving a few fossils behind for future paleoanthropologists. ;) 1 + 1 = 2.

    “Again: there is no science without math, and the worst math is no math at all.”

    See above equation.

    Regarding riding rhinos, apparently neandertals had broken bones similar to rodeo cowboys, and some ancient wooden spears were found in Europe,

    “Wait a little. Those spears are 400,000 years old — much, much older than any Neandertaler.”

    Thus indicating that neandertals are rather likely to have had spears / push poles.

    “Try to find out more about the bone fractures; couldn’t they have been produced by being thrown over by a mammoth or woolly rhino?

    Also, there is evidence that they didn’t throw their spears, but stabbed their prey with them. Many have a tennis arm of just the sort that’s expected if you hold a lance with two hands, always on the same side of you.”

    Wouldn’t a dug-out push-pole/thrusting-spear do the same thing? Polynesians tended to have similar arms, due to much paddling.

    DDeden

  34. #35 DDeden
    March 24, 2007

    David, this is copied from a message by Lee Olsen at the Hall of Maat website (Archaeology, Egyptology)

    “Thanks to a tunnel-vision comment by Erik Trinkaus stating that Neandertals had injuries similar to rodeo cowboys, it was determined that Neandertals must have been bulldogging wooly rhinos or at least stabbing at them with thrusting spears and getting trampled in the process. Several lines of evidence do not concur with this kind of thinking. 1) the few wood spears that have survived from Neandertal times are designed the same as modern javelins for track and field distance throwing. 2) American PaleoIndian injuries also follow the rodeo injury pattern, and we KNOW they had atlatls for long distance throwing.

    “Living from 4 million to 2 million years ago, early hominins in the genus Australopithecus are considered our immediate predecessors of the genus Homo…”

    Well yeah, but there is a problem of time overlap, there is one Homo tooth @ 2.3 mya. A second overlap (backing up the very weak single tooth argument) is the fact that at 2.6 mya there is hard evidence of a very sophisticated tool industry. In spite of the fact that chimps (and most other animals) are shown to be much brighter mentally in captivity than they display in the wild, no chimp, so far, can be taught in the lab to grasp the principles of conchoidal fracture or the angles necessary to produce it. This demonstrates a huge gap mentally existed between chimps and something else that existed 2.6 mya. This and the loss of canines suggests to me that more of a mental game, rather than physical, was being played by our immediate ancestors.

    DDeden