Top 10 misconceptions about prehistory, the false things we all believe

Prehistory, dinosaurs, cavemen, and the invention of fire. I know, it’s way back in your mind, and you don’t have many memories left from your history books. On the other hand, I am sure that you have plenty of clichés about this period. Fantasies. Received ideas. Pretty simplistic stereotypes. Warning, spoiler alert: everything you thought was not true. The proof right there!

1. The food was bland

Whether in movies, literature or even our history books: prehistoric people only ate seeds and meat. It’s not totally true, it’s not totally false. According to analyzes carried out by historians from the University of York, prehistoric men already used garlic and… mustard to flavor their dishes. Yes Yes ! Other traces of spices such as turmeric, capers or coriander have been found.

2. Dilophosaurus was poisonous

So OK, it’s not the most famous of dinosaurs, but anyone who’s seen Jurassic Park has the ref. Basically, in the movie, he’s an infamous, venomous, revered character with a frill. Spoiler alert: it’s SF, and therefore, it’s quite far from reality. When the first film was made in 1993, very little was known about this dinosaur. Only six skeletons had been found and partially studied. Since then, research has advanced. We can now say that he had no poisonous saliva, but that his jaws were powerful enough to tear other dinosaurs apart. He was also much taller and more imposing than his Hollywood counterpart. It was even the largest land animal at the beginning of the Jurassic period, 183 million years ago.

3. T-Rex had scales

Another fantasy straight out of Jurassic Park. The dinos are represented large, gray, with scales. In reality, the T-Rex were colorful dinosaurs, which most likely had…feathers. At least on the head, back and tail. According to Jack Horner, an American paleontologist, this dinosaur may even have been pink, and was dancing to attract its companions. We are still very far from the version proposed by Spielberg, right?

4. The use of metal

Like what, we must remain critical of historical films. While it’s true that metal has been used for millennia, it’s not as old as the movie 10,000 would have you believe. cages, weapons, or even jewellery.) In reality, it has been used since 1200 BC, that is, since the Ancient period.

5. Prehistoric men did not bury their dead

No, prehistoric man does not abandon his dead, without ceremony or tears. In addition to burying their dead, Neanderthals mourned them. Proof also that they were able to experience emotions such as attachment or grief. A cemetery has been formally identified in Irkutsk, Russia. On site: 100 bodies of a tribe of hunter-gatherers, who would have lived between 7,000 and 8,000 years ago.

6. Prehistoric men drew like 4-year-olds

We have all already seen at least one image of the Lascaux cave, and its cave paintings. It’s nice and quite impressive to think that we were already drawing 65,000 years ago, but we’ve never been in awe of the quality of the representations. However, a study conducted in 2012 shows that our ancestors were much better able to accurately represent the movement of animals than the artists of our era. After analyzing 1000 works of modern art: the error rate is almost 58%. A little over 46% on the side of our ancestors. Sooooo, who’s drawing like a 4 year old now?

7. Our ancestors only painted on the walls

Speaking of painting and the Lascaux cave, did you know that, contrary to popular belief, prehistoric men used different mediums for their art? Many corpses and mummified remains found were… tattooed. Yes, the tattoo is, indeed, much older than we think! Very little is known about how to do this, but volcanic glass tools have been identified as prehistoric tattoo tools. WOW, right?

8. Cavemen were stupid, blame their brains pokey

So, it takes everything to make a world, it seems. So there were surely cons, very cons, and not cons at all. In any case, studies show that the brains of our ancestors 10,000 years ago were… the same size and constitution as our brains today. At the time of the Upper Paleolithic, the size of the brain of Homo Sapiens was even greater than ours: 1500 cm³ against 1130 cm³ on average today. In short, if a prehistoric man finds himself propelled into our present, if he receives the same education as us, he could, like us, work for Topito. One theory even asserts that “modern man does not exist”: we would all be the same cavemen. The gap between spear-hunting the mammoth and reading poop jokes simply hinges on adapting to lifestyle, progress, and nurture.

Top 10 misconceptions about prehistory, the false things we all believe
Photo credits (CC BY-SA 2.0): hairymuseummatt (original photo), DrMikeBaxter (derivative work), Ephert (derivative work of derivative work)

9. Stone Age men had rotten teeth

Did you think their teeth, full of cavities, were so damaged that they ended up falling out? Think again ! In 2017, a study published by researchers suggests the existence of Neolithic dentistry. So, no, no reclining seat and tiller (awful, the sound of that stuff), but some common procedures that we still use. For example, two 13,000 year old teeth seem to have been cured of cavities. The technique ? A scraping of the damaged part, then filled in with a kind of natural and waterproof tar. So, does that bother you?

10. Prehistoric men didn’t know how to get high.

Do you really think we waited for you to get shrooms? Truly ? Well know that you have discovered absolutely nothing! Neither you, nor your brother, nor even your grandfather during his heyday: our ancestors were already consuming it 10,000 years ago. Traces of hallucinogenic San Pedro cacti, 303 times the age of Christ, have been found in caves in the Andes Mountains in northern Peru. The documented evidence for the use of champipi is even more numerous. Among the other drugs already used at the time: opium, and alcohol. Yes yes, we were already drinking in 7000 BC. Fermented drinks made from rice, honey and fruit.

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