Eight extremely well-preserved spears -- the oldest known weapons found anywhere -- along with other artifacts and animal remains found at the site suggest the spears' users were highly skilled craftsmen and hunters, well-adapted to their environment and possessed of a capacity for abstract thought and complex planning comparable to modern man, the researchers said.
Scientists from the University of Tubingen's Institute of Prehistory said that they were likely members of the species Homo heidelbergensis, although no human remains have been found at the site.
Excavations in an open coal mine in Schoningen since 2008 are providing insights into how humans lived in the environment of 300,000 years ago, a Tubingen release said.
The bones of large mammals -- elephants, rhinoceroses, horses and lions -- as well as the remains of amphibians, reptiles, shells and even beetles have been preserved in the coal along with the human artifacts, the researchers said.
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