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Laziness Led The Homo Erectus To Their Extinction

Aug 11, 2018 12:22 AM EDT
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Homo erectus
The Homo erectus went extinct for a multitude of reasons, but archaeologists say in a new study that one major factos is their laziness.
(Photo : Mohamed Noor | Pixabay)

Laziness kills — and science just proved it. New research reveals that the Homo erectus died out partly due to their lazy nature.

This quality, paired with an inability to adapt to the changing climate, ultimately played a significant role in the eventual extinction of the long-gone ancestors of modern humans.

'Lazy' Homo Erectus Opted Out Of Strenuous Work

In a study published in the journal PLOS One, archaeologists from the Australian National University reveal that the Homo erectus species employed the "least-effort strategies" in making tools and collecting resources during the Early Stone Age.

For the research, the team analyzed artifacts excavated from the site of Saffaqah in central Saudi Arabia in 2014. Here, they find evidence of the laziness that led the prehistoric humans to their eventual extinction.

"They really don't seem to have been pushing themselves," Dr. Ceri Shipton, lead researcher from the ANU School of Culture, History and Language, explains in a press release from the university. "I don't get the sense they were explorers looking over the horizon. They didn't have that same sense of wonder that we have."

He cites the tool making methods of the Homo erectus to illustrate the point. Instead of exerting a little more effort to find good quality rock to use, the ancient humans would settle on whatever's lying around them to make their tools with.

The team found a large rocky outcrop of quality stone on a hill just a short walk away from the Homo erectus camp. However, it remained untouched by the homonins.

"They knew it was there, but because they had enough adequate resources they seem to have thought, 'why bother?'" Shipton says.

In contrast, the enterprising Homo sapiens and Neanderthals were known for traveling great distances and even towering heights in search of good materials.

Failure To Adapt Contributes To The Homo Erectus Demise

The nature of the Homo erectus likely wasn't built to survive a changing Earth. A recent study credited the Homo sapiens' survival to their incredible ability to flourish in a variety of different environments.

On the other hand, as their habitats dried out, the Homo erectus stayed put and remained doing the same things they've always done.

"There was no progression at all, and their tools are never very far from these now dry river beds. I think in the end the environment just got too dry for them," Shipton says.

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