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Neanderthals created synthetic material through underground distillation, study reveals.

Neanderthals created synthetic material through underground distillation, study reveals.

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Neanderthals Manufactured Synthetic Material with Underground Distillation

Researchers from the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in Germany conducted a study on the birch tar used by Neanderthals to affix their tools. They found that the technique used to create the adhesive is more complicated than previously believed. The material was used as an adhesive backing to connect stone to bone and wood in tools and weapons, and was water-resistant and organic decomposition-resistant.

Neanderthal Synthetic Material Manufacturing

One of the attributes of human intelligence is the ability to synthesize substances and materials not found in nature. Synthetic material manufacturing remains a significant aspect of our cognitive advantage over other animals as it requires sentient thinking, planning, and comprehension of our actions to convert raw materials through a learned process.

New Findings from the Study

The research team found that the Neanderthals who made the German birch tar used the most efficient method with a stepwise oxygen-restricted distillation process of underground heating to extract the synthetic adhesive. According to the authors, This degree of complexity is unlikely to have been invented spontaneously. They suggested that the technique would have started with simpler methods and have been developed into the more complex process by experimentation.

Experimental Archaeology

To test the process that led to the German birch tar, the researchers engaged in experimental archaeology by recreating five different techniques for extraction, two above-ground and three below ground. With the birch tar extracted, the team applied infrared spectroscopy, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and micro‑computed tomography to analyze and compare their tar-making techniques with the ancient birch tar artifacts.

Importance of the Findings

The study illustrates that modern humans are not alone in their ability to manufacture synthetic materials and were not the first to reach this mental milestone. The evidence for cognitively complex Neanderthals has only increased in recent years, as archaeological evidence reveals many of the technological firsts thought to be modern human inventions were already in use among Neanderthals.

Conclusion

The study shows that the birch tar used by Neanderthals was not just a simple material but a result of a sophisticated process. This discovery highlights the cognitive abilities of Neanderthals and proves that they were not inferior to modern humans. They could manufacture synthetic materials and had an understanding of underground transformative techniques, which is a challenging process even today.

FAQs

Q: What was the birch tar used for?
A: The birch tar was used as an adhesive backing to connect stone to bone and wood in tools and weapons. It was water-resistant and resistant to organic decomposition.

Q: What is synthetic material manufacturing?
A: Synthetic material manufacturing is the ability to synthesize substances and materials not found in nature. It requires sentient thinking, planning, and comprehension of our actions to convert raw materials through a learned process.

Q: Who made the German birch tar?
A: The research team discovered that the Neanderthals made the German birch tar using a stepwise oxygen-restricted distillation process of underground heating to extract the synthetic adhesive.

Q: Why were underground transformative techniques trickier to execute?
A: Underground transformative techniques are trickier to execute because some elements cannot be observed or corrected after the procedure begins, requiring a more precise set-up procedure.

Q: What does the study mean for Neanderthals?
A: The study highlights the cognitive abilities of Neanderthals and proves that they were not inferior to modern humans. They could manufacture synthetic materials and had an understanding of underground transformative techniques, which is a challenging process even today.

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