Laziness likely helped kill off Homo erectus, study says

Avatar By Tyler MacDonald | 1 year ago

A new study examining archaeological research suggests that the extinct species of primitive humans, Homo erectus, met their end in part because they were “lazy.”

The conclusion stems from an archaeological excavation of an ancient population of the species in the Arabian Peninsula that lived during the Early Stone Age. The data suggests that they used “least-effort strategies” to create tools and gather resources.

In combination with an inability to adapt to an evolving climate, this “laziness” most likely played a role in the species’ extinction.

“They really don’t seem to have been pushing themselves,” said Ceri Shipton, lead author of the study from The Australian National University (ANU).

“I don’t get the sense they were explorers looking over the horizon,” he said. “They didn’t have that same sense of wonder that we have.”

Shipton says this was clear from the way that the species created their tools and gathered resources.

“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,” he said. “At the site we looked at there was a big rocky outcrop of quality stone just a short distance away up a small hill.

“But rather than walk up the hill they would just use whatever bits had rolled down and were lying at the bottom,” he added. “When we looked at the rocky outcrop there were no signs of any activity, no artefacts and no quarrying of the stone.”

“They knew it was there, but because they had enough adequate resources they seem to have thought, ‘why bother?'”.

Conversely, other stone tool makers in later time periods, including Neanderthals and early Homo sapiens, climbed mountains to find the best quality stones and carried them over long distances.

The findings were published in PLOS One.