Homo erectus, the species modern humans may have evolved from, had a good run — literally. These hominids walked upright, ran long distances and made tools before going extinct. But according to a new study, they may have died out because they were lazy.
A group of scientists from the Australian National University explored an area in the Arabian Peninsula where a group of H. erectus used to live. They found that these cavemen were "strong and skilful" but made tools with low-quality stone ... Even though there was a pile of high-quality stone on a hill nearby.
"They knew it was there, but because they had enough adequate resources they seem to have thought, 'why bother?'" explained Ceri Shipton, a professor at The Australian National University who worked on the study.
Homo sapiens (that's us!) and Neanderthals, on the other hand, climbed mountains to get the best stone they could find.© The site where the archaeologists studied the homo erectus group. (Photo: Courtesy of the Australian National University)
When the region started drying up, the homo erectus folks — probably waiting for a handout — were just too lazy to adapt, explained the scientists.
Eventually, the climate changed, and the hominids wouldn't change their ways, so they died out. Sound familiar? It's always frustrating when the climate changes and humans just stick their heads in the sand (cough).
"They really don’t seem to have been pushing themselves," 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."
Ouch. If there are any secret groups of H. erectus still alive now, and they found an internet connection, they're undoubtedly pretty offended right now. But they're probably too lazy to pull up their bootstraps and actually do something about it. At least, that's one version of the story. If you are a H. erectus, feel free to tell your side in the comments below.