New Archaeological Find Pushes Back First Tool Use 1 Million Years

Archaeologists working in Ethiopia have discovered grooves in animal bones indicating that they had been subjected to work with stone tools. If this conclusion is accurate, the earliest tool use by hominids dates back to 3.4 million years -- almost a million years before previous estimates:

Primordial butchers using sharp stones to fillet a carcass in ancient East Africa made the marks, the researchers said.

"It pushes back tool use almost a million years," said archaeologist Shannon McPherron at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who discovered the bones last year at Dikika, Ethiopia, about 300 miles from Addis Ababa.[...]

Until now, the oldest known stone tools dated to about 2.5 million years ago. Those implements, of which thousands were found in East Africa, are thought to be the work of an early human species. The older find announced Wednesday, however, would predate the evolution of the human family, known as the genus Homo, and raises new questions about the role of tools in spurring human evolution. They may have initiated a shift in pre-humans' diet, which in turn may have aided the development of larger brains.


Link via Discover | Photo: Dikika Research Project/PA

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