Montreal: Researchers from University of Montreal have discovered a multi-purpose bone tool dating from the Neanderthal era, suggesting that the Neanderthals knew how to make stone tools like humans.
"It proves that Neanderthals were able to understand the mechanical properties of bone and knew how to use it to make tools, abilities usually attributed to our species, homo sapiens," explained Luc Doyon from university's department of anthropology.
Neanderthals lived in Europe and western Asia in the middle Paleolithic period between around 250,000 to 28,000 years ago.
"The discovery is an additional indicator of bone work by Neanderthals and helps put into question the linear view of the evolution of human behaviour," Doyon noted.
The tool in question was uncovered in June 2014 during the annual digging in Burgundy, France.
Well preserved, the tool comes from the left femur of an adult reindeer and its age is estimated between 55,000 and 60,000 years ago.
Evidence of meat butchering and bone fracturing to extract marrow are evident on the tool.
Percussion marks suggest the use of the bone fragment for carved sharpening the cutting edges of stone tools.
Finally, chipping and a significant polish show the use of the bone as a scraper.
"The presence of this tool at a context where stone tools are abundant suggests an opportunistic choice of the bone fragment and its intentional modification into a tool by Neanderthals," Doyon emphasised.
The discovery reduces the presumed gap between us and the Neanderthals, preventing us from saying that one was technically superior to the other, the authors concluded.