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Human ancestors were making stone tools 3.3 million years ago

Posted on Thursday, May 21 2015 @ 14:21:21 CEST by

Looks like the history books will need to be rewritten as scientists discovered human ancestors started making tools much earlier than previously thought. Unearthed from the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya, the collection of stone tools pictured below is dated 3.3 million years old, a whopping 700,000 years older than any tools found before.

The first tools at the site, called Lomekwi 3, were discovered in 2011 after researchers took a wrong turn as they walked through the dry Kenyan landscape. Scientists had found a total of 149 tools by late 2012, with more being unearthed during a field trip in 2014. The collection includes sharp flakes of stone that were likely used for cutting, as well as hammers and anvils.
Until this discovery, the oldest examples of this technology were the Oldowan tools from Tanzania, which date to about 2.6 million years ago.

The researchers say the 700,000-year time difference reveals how manufacturing methods and use changed over time, growing more advanced.
The discovery implies the commonly held view of the Homo habilis as the earliest human ancestor to use tools is false. It is unknown who made the tools discovered in Kenya but there are several candidates, such as the hominin Kenyanthropus platyops or Australopithecus afarensis, which is famously known from the fossil Lucy. These species had relatively small brains and weren't assumed to be particularly intelligent but the discovery of these tools suggests otherwise.
Dr Ignacio de la Torre, from University College London's Institute of Archaeology, described this as "a game-changing" find.

"It's the most important discovery in the last 50 years," he told BBC News.

"It suggests that species like Australopithecus might have been intelligent enough to make stone tools - that they had the cognitive and manipulative abilities to carry tasks like this out."
Oldest known stone tools



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