Laziness led to extinction of Homo erectus

August 10, 2018 by Aaron Walker, Australian National University
Dr Ceri Shipton on site at Saffaqah in central Saudi Arabia. Credit: ANU

New archaeological research from The Australian National University (ANU) has found that Homo erectus, an extinct species of primitive humans, went extinct in part because they were 'lazy'.

An archaeological excavation of ancient human populations in the Arabian Peninsula during the Early Stone Age, found that Homo erectus used 'least-effort strategies' for making and collecting resources.

This 'laziness' paired with an inability to adapt to a changing climate likely played a role in the species going extinct, according to lead researcher Dr. Ceri Shipton of the ANU School of Culture, History and Language.

"They really don't seem to have been pushing themselves," Dr. Shipton said.

"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."

Dr. Shipton said this was evident in the way the species made their and collected 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.

"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?'".

This is in contrast to the stone tool makers of later periods, including early Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, who were climbing mountains to find good quality and transporting it over long distances.

Dr. Shipton said a failure to progress technologically, as their environment dried out into a desert, also contributed to the population's demise.

"Not only were they lazy, but they were also very conservative," Dr. Shipton said.

"The sediment samples showed the environment around them was changing, but they were doing the exact same things with their tools.

"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."

The excavation and survey work was undertaken in 2014 at the site of Saffaqah near Dawadmi in central Saudi Arabia.

The research has been published in a paper for the PLoS One scientific journal.

Explore further: Stone tools in India suggest earlier human exit from Africa

More information: Ceri Shipton et al. Acheulean technology and landscape use at Dawadmi, central Arabia, PLOS ONE (2018). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0200497

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39 comments

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tekram
3.3 / 5 (7) Aug 10, 2018
"Not only were they lazy, but they were also very conservative," Dr. Shipton said.

Ouch.
Anonym216579
1.6 / 5 (21) Aug 10, 2018
Or wait, maybe they never existed in the first place. Every single supposed skeleton or remains that have been found have been proven to be other known species, completely unrelated to humans. Its amazing how much time and energy is wasted trying to perpetuate this scam.
antigoracle
2.2 / 5 (17) Aug 10, 2018
This has to be one of the dumbest piece of tripe I've ever seen on physorg.
When you haven't a clue, just invoke the climate change bogey, that will get the ignorant on your side.
Applying 'least-effort strategies', is not being lazy, but rather quite intelligent, especially if your resources i.e. food, is limited.
zz5555
4.3 / 5 (11) Aug 10, 2018
Or wait, maybe they never existed in the first place. Every single supposed skeleton or remains that have been found have been proven to be other known species, completely unrelated to humans.

You seem to be confused. H. erectus seems to be the term used if H. erectus and H. ergaster are the same species. Regardless, they're both ancestors of humans. You're not a creationist, are you?
dsylvan
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2018
I guess it makes sense that archaeology would be most prone to anthropocentric bias--being so close to home as it were.
elevyn_11_
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2018
lol erectus
orti
1.5 / 5 (8) Aug 10, 2018
"There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." -- Mark Twain
dfjohnsonphd
4.6 / 5 (9) Aug 10, 2018
Great apes existing today are not workaholics. I have seen many movies of gorillas lounging around, taking it easy. And orangutans hanging from trees, chilling out. They look pretty "lazy" but are still around, at least for now. I cannot image "lazy" as a criteria for evolution or extinction. If erectus was a "lazy" species, it probably would never have reached the numbers found in the fossil record, if at all.

Maybe as @elevyn_11_ thinks, they needed some Viagra......

IwinUlose
2.5 / 5 (4) Aug 10, 2018
Great apes existing today are not workaholics. I have seen many movies of gorillas lounging around, taking it easy. And orangutans hanging from trees, chilling out. They look pretty "lazy" but are still around, at least for now. I cannot image "lazy" as a criteria for evolution or extinction. If erectus was a "lazy" species, it probably would never have reached the numbers found in the fossil record, if at all.

Maybe as @elevyn_11_ thinks, they needed some Viagra......


The populations of the species you refer to are not exactly on the incline, nor are they pushing into new frontiers.
rhugh1066
5 / 5 (7) Aug 10, 2018
IwinUlose, Ape populations have evolved over time as have the environments they occupy at any given time. They're older species than Homo and it can be argued that Homo is the reason for their numbers being what they are today due to deforestation, bush meat hunting, etc. It seems we've rigged the game against them.
IwinUlose
4.3 / 5 (7) Aug 10, 2018
Fair point!
dfjohnsonphd
4.3 / 5 (4) Aug 10, 2018
Quite right @rhugh1066. The apes are getting wiped out by humans, as are most other species. And what is this need for a "horizon" in human evolution? We need to be seeing things in order to evolve to a higher level? What rubbish. That is Lamarckian evolution, like the giraffe's "horizon" to stretch its neck to reach higher leaves to survive.

Evolution is based on random mutations ( and chromosomal rearrangements during meiosis), there is no horizon for man to reach for in future form(s). Wherever he ends up will be due to events in his environment that help him survive. But even that pressure has been largely curtailed due to modern medicine. Previously non-surviving members are now saved, and they breed and pass along the defective genes that Darwin would have selected out, so to say.

If there is a horizon for humans to strive to evolve to, it is reversing the massive extinction event that we are currently causing, and save the very environment we need to further evolve.
plaasjaapie
3 / 5 (6) Aug 10, 2018
Oh good Lord. What a load of conjecture.
Jeffhans1
not rated yet Aug 10, 2018
Laziness can be cultural. If your peer group pressures you to stop looking for the best stones and just use these, you use those. You aren't out competing yourself, just the lowest common denominator. If your culture states that any crappy tool gives you the right to mate, you will end up with the lowest quality tools imaginable.
V4Vendicar
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 10, 2018
They may not have been bright enough to realize that tool stones are something that can be found elsewhere other than around the encampment.

It is hard to establish motivations when it comes to inferiors.

That is why the irrational, anti-science thoughts of Republicans are difficult to predict.
Eddorian
5 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2018
Lazy, may be. But they were around for a lot longer than any other member of the genus. Maybe they were just tired.
dudester
3.8 / 5 (5) Aug 11, 2018
My cat thinks I am very lazy because I can't hear when the man at the end of the block slams his car door and my dog thinks I am very lazy because I cannot smell the man.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 11, 2018
They may not have been bright enough to realize that tool stones are something that can be found elsewhere other than around the encampment.

It is hard to establish motivations when it comes to inferiors.

That is why the irrational, anti-science thoughts of Republicans are difficult to predict.
says V4

Of course, why didn't WE think of that. The new establishment of a "Space Force" by that Republican in the White House and the continued funding of NASA by a majority Republican legislative body is SOOO antiscience.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2018
Great apes existing today are not workaholics. I have seen many movies of gorillas lounging around, taking it easy. And orangutans hanging from trees, chilling out. They look pretty "lazy" but are still around, at least for now. I cannot image "lazy" as a criteria for evolution or extinction. If erectus was a "lazy" species, it probably would never have reached the numbers found in the fossil record, if at all.

Maybe as @elevyn_11_ thinks, they needed some Viagra......


The populations of the species you refer to are not exactly on the incline, nor are they pushing into new frontiers.
says IloseUwin

Perhaps it is the lack of opposing thumbs, and/or their love of bananas? I've wondered as to the reason(s) WHY a species that is supposedly our next of kin in the DNA percentages, has never evolved in parallel to humans, in spite of both species supposedly having come from and evolved in Africa. According to DNA experts, there is only ~.01 % difference in the DNA
Whart1984
Aug 11, 2018
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Whart1984
Aug 11, 2018
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
bl999
5 / 5 (2) Aug 11, 2018
Its a pretty amazing discovery about the extent of resource utilisation at the time surely. In my ignorance I'd suppose you couldn't get that much specific evolutionary material as such from such a single site. Anyway are we not H. erectus?
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2018
Its a pretty amazing discovery about the extent of resource utilisation at the time surely. In my ignorance I'd suppose you couldn't get that much specific evolutionary material as such from such a single site. Anyway are we not H. erectus?


Only on your insistence as a personal preference. But why would you want to align yourself with an extinct species?
axemaster
5 / 5 (8) Aug 11, 2018
Astounding. They say the word "conservative", clearly not in the political context, and everybody explodes. We live in a truly toxic culture.

I'll be blunt. All of you who participated in this argument - you are suffering from brain rot. Find a way to heal yourself.
Thorium Boy
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 12, 2018
Now, the slackers are saved by the social safety net. Which means that eventually, if the breeding balace is off (and it is, with educated people having fewer children) the slackers will outnumber the productive and then the fun will start.
Surveillance_Egg_Unit
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2018
Yes, in such a scenario if the slackers get the upper hand over hard-working, talented and highly motivated individuals (like me), eventually, the slackers (in their extreme jealousy) will demand that the haves give up all their wealth and give it to the have-nots, which will make everyone equally poor. Socialism/µ Marxism at its best.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 12, 2018
Oy. Toxic political culture, on a science site. No wonder someone wants to see man made global warning - a real problem today - in pre-industrial regional climate episodes. Those episodes,by the way, is thought to have driven human evolution in the first place.

We can jump the creationists, who does not understand that these were our ancestors whether or not we want them to be. (C.f. "why would you want to align".) But on the general biology maybe we should remind ourselves that H. erectus simply means "walking/upright man", and that it was not "inferior" - the abstract notes "strong and skilful [sic]" - nor are current humans "superior"; we are all adapted to our environment.

On the specific biology, the strategy find and the difference to humans was not precisely "conjecture" but based on the finds. It was a large, long lived assembly so I guess repetition elsewhere is not too important.
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.7 / 5 (6) Aug 12, 2018
I forgot, the idea that health care leads to survival of (desired or undesired) cultural traits is either non-working, immoral eugenics if you think it is solely genetic, or bogus if you look at how the global population improves under health care. Take your pick, and then stop making garbage out as 'points'.
szore88
1 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2018
Amen!
TrollBane
not rated yet Aug 12, 2018
"lol erectus"
Perhaps they aren't as extinct as we thought...
Whart1984
Aug 12, 2018
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
SwamiOnTheMountain
not rated yet Aug 12, 2018
I wonder what the future homo will say about homo sapiens?
shabd
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 13, 2018
What a load of moralistic crap disguised as science.
Tacite
5 / 5 (2) Aug 13, 2018
"At the site we looked at there was a big rocky outcrop of quality stone just a short distance away up a small hill." We can rewrite this concerning homo spaiens : "At the planet earth we looked at there was a lot of green energy at disposal just a short distance of brain and intelligence" but homo spaiens prefer to burn his fossil energy. They were lazy and so conservative in that matter that they prefer to risk extinction than to do some effort to change their habits !" In clear homo sapeins "knew it was there, but because they had enough adequate resources they seem to have thought, 'why bother?'".
May be am I a future archaeologist ?
Whart1984
Aug 13, 2018
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
jimmybobber
5 / 5 (2) Aug 14, 2018
Lazy is a very poor word to use. Conserving energy is not laziness. Is this really a scientific article?
zz5555
5 / 5 (3) Aug 14, 2018
Lazy is a very poor word to use. Conserving energy is not laziness. Is this really a scientific article?

No. None of the articles on this site are scientific articles. The articles here are simplified summaries for laymen. If you've spent much time here you'll know that many, but not all, laymen are incompetent with regards to science. "Lazy" is in quotes to indicate it's not really laziness, but to give those laymen an idea of what the article is saying. There's a link to the actual scientific article and you'll find that lazy doesn't appear once in it. Never confuse an article on this site with the actual science.
jimmybobber
not rated yet Aug 15, 2018
@zz5555 Yeah i realize this is a science news site. There are enough misconceptions about science already and this site posts terrible articles like this one. It's simply clickbait.
To Physorg.com you should be ashamed of yourself posting this stuff.
SURFIN85
not rated yet Aug 20, 2018
My mom visited me once and I suggested we walk down to view some gardens. It was only a mile down the road. No way! This petite 67 year old had to drive.

I rebelled against the laziness I saw around me everyday. I'm a real outlier where I live. It seems like everyone drives, and is also overweight, fat, and/or have some sort of walking disability. I don't know how lazy they are, but they sure are degenerate.

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