Researchers at the University of Kent have recreated the processes Neanderthals used to produce sharp flint axes, and found that our ancestors were skilled engineers.
A modern-day 'flintknapper' replicated the sharpening processes that Neanderthals used to create tools - a sort of modern 'reverse engineering' of ancient techniques in use by three kinds of early 'hominin' including Neanderthals as early as 300,000 years ago.
The researchers found that Neanderthals could shape 'elegant' stone tools - shaping them to be hard-wearing, easily sharpened and with a perfectly balanced centre of gravity.
The reproduction of how Neanderthals worked shows that it is unlikely that stone flakes used in the tools could have been shaped by accident - and that our ancestors intentionally 'engineered' stone cores to create tools fit for their jobs.
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