In a sense the Olmecs never vanished, their civilization may have fallen but their legacy lives on. Indeed the people of Oaxaca and Veracruz are in part descended from the Olmecs, with the language the Olmecs presumably spoke, Mixe-Zoquean, still spoken by hundreds of thousands of people to this very day. Aside from genealogy and linguistics there are several other Olmec cultural influences that have survived to the present day. One of these being the Mesoamerican ballgame, which is still played in modified form in rural Mesoamerican villages to this very day as well.
Aside from the elements of Olmec culture that have lasted to the present day, another Olmec cultural influence that survived for ages and is still worshiped by a few indigenous practitioners is the Feathered Serpent, most famously known by his Aztec name Quetzalcoatl, however he was also known to the Maya as Kukulkan and to the Yucatek as Ququmatz. The Feathered Serpent is an ancient deity, having originated with the Olmecs and who is still being venerated to this very day. In a sense, the Olmecs never vanished at all.
Abstract: Complex projectiles—propulsion via mechanical aid—are considered an important technological innovation, with possible relevance for the successful Out-of-Africa dispersal of our species. Conclusive evidence for the beginning of this technology, however, is lacking from the early Late Pleistocene (ca. 130 to 70 thousand years ago; ka). Given the extremely limited applicability of relatively robust methods for validating stone-tipped projectile use, such as through fracture propagation velocity, converging lines of circumstantial evidence remain the best way to examine early complex projectiles. We assess here suggestions for an early Late Pleistocene origin of complex projectiles in Africa. Results from both previous and present independent approaches suggest a trajectory in which complex projectiles were likely adopted during the early Late Pleistocene in eastern Africa. At Aduma (Middle Awash, Ethiopia), morphometric, hafting, and impact damage patterns in several lithic point assemblages suggest a shift from simple spear technologies (thrusting and/or hand-cast) to complex projectiles. Broadly dated to 80–100 ka, lithic points from later phases of the Aduma succession represent a particularly strong candidate for projectile armatures most comparable to ethnographically known spearthrower darts, lending support for previous suggestions and warranting further investigations.
Notes: This is interesting, very interesting, because it pushes back the date of the invention of the atlatl back to the Middle Paleolithic, long before modern humans spread out of Africa, and also long before the earliest evidence for the atlatl in the archaeological record, which AFAIK is from Aurignacian Europe, it’s also telling because Native Americans lacked the atlatl until the advent of the Archaic period, so either the ancestors of the Native Americans lost the atlatl sometime prior to the peopling of the Americas or the atlatl wasn’t as common as previously believed. The Tasmanians also lacked the spearthrower or atlatl, despite ultimately coming from the same population that left Africa as the rest of us did, while the Australians *did* possess the spearthrower, called the *woomera* there, although it was of recent (Holocene) derivation.