Technology based evolution? A biometric test of the effects of handsize versus tool form on efficiency in an experimental cutting task

Key, Alastair J. M. and Lycett, Stephen J. (2011) Technology based evolution? A biometric test of the effects of handsize versus tool form on efficiency in an experimental cutting task. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38 (7). pp. 1663-1670. ISSN 0305-4403. (doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2011.02.032) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2011.02.032

Abstract

The use of stone cutting tools opened a novel adaptive niche for hominins. Hence, it has been hypothesised that biomechanical adaptations evolved to maximise efficiency when using such tools. Here, we test experimentally whether biometric variation influences the efficiency of simple cutting tools (n = 60 participants). Grip strength and handsize were measured in each participant. 30 participants used flint flakes, while the other 30 used small (unhafted) steel blades. Variations in basic parameters of tool form (length, width, thickness, cutting edge length) were recorded for the 30 flint flakes. It was ensured that mean handsize and strength in each participant group were not significantly different to investigate the effect of tool variation. The experimental task required cutting through a 10 mm-diameter hessian rope. Cutting efficiency was measured using both ‘Number of cutting strokes required’ and ‘Total time taken’. Results show that both efficiency measures were significantly correlated with handsize using all 60 participants. However, no significant differences were found between the flake and blade groups in terms of mean efficiency. Nor was any significant relationship found between tool form parameters and efficiency in the flint flake group. We stress that our results do not imply that tool form has no impact on tool efficiency, but rather that – all other things being equal – biometric variation has a statistically significant influence on efficiency variation when using simple cutting tools. These results demonstrate that biomechanical parameters related directly to efficiency of use, may plausibly have been subject to selection in the earliest stone tool-using hominins.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Biological Anthropology
Depositing User: A.J.M. Key
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2015 13:15 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2015 13:32 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/50473 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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