Archeologists believe they have found the oldest example of tool use

April 16, 2015 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report

A team of archeological researchers, led by Sonia Harmand of Stony Brook University, has announced that they believe they have found tools used by human ancestors approximately 800,000 years before the current record holder. Harmand made the announcement at this year's Paleoanthropology Society meeting held in San Francisco.

Currently, the consensus in the archeology community, is that tools found at a site called Gona in Ethiopia, dated back to 2.6 million years ago, are the oldest—that timeline conforms neatly with theories that suggest modern humans first appeared on the scene approximately 2.8 million years ago, which would make us the first users of tools. But now, Harmand and her team are challenging that idea by declaring that they have found tools that have been dated as far back as 3.3 million years ago, which would make the first users one of our ancestors, not us—likely Australopithecus, or Kenyanthropus.

The recently discovered samples were found at a site known as Lomekwi 3 in Kenya. They found some of the stone tool samples actually lying on the ground, which of course led to an excavation. The tools the team found included cores (stones with flakes chipped off), flakes (chipped off material) and anvils (stones used to knock chips off another stone). The team claims the tools were clearly "knapped"—a term used to describe stone that has been intentionally chipped to achieve a desired effect, rather than being chipped by other incidental means—an analysis of the tools showed, for example, that some had clearly been rotated during the chipping process. The team used a dating technique that involves noting changes in the Earth's magnetic field, as seen in soil samples, to date the tools. The dated age of the tools is significant also because back in 2010 another team of researchers found bone samples dated to 3.4 million years ago, that had what looked like markings made by someone using a tool of some sort. That claim was met with criticism, however, as there was no way to verify what had caused the marks—but now, it has taken on added significance, as the date is so close to the recently found tools—future research will no doubt focus on attempting to discover if the marks on the bones match closely with the tools.

Explore further: New study refutes claims of early humans in India prior to Mount Toba eruption

Related Stories

Stone cutting tools link early humans to prehistoric India

March 25, 2011

Dating of recently discovered artifacts in South India indicates that early humans lived in the region more than a million years ago, and that they used distinct 'Acheulian' stone cutting tools, a new study reports in journal ...

Bonobo stone tools as competent as ancient human?

August 21, 2012

The great apes known as bonobos can make stone tools far more varied in purpose than previously known, reaching a level of technological competence formerly assigned only to the human lineage, according to researchers.

Recommended for you

Study: Social media sways exercise motivation

January 17, 2019

It's January – a time when students are looking for that extra bit of oomph. For some, time spent on social media might provide the necessary inspiration to get up and exercising – but that time can come with consequences, ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

trxtgreen
4.4 / 5 (5) Apr 16, 2015
Currently, the consensus in the archeology community, is that tools found at a site called Gona in Ethiopia, dated back to 2.6 million years ago, are the oldest—that timeline conforms neatly with theories that suggest modern humans first appeared on the scene approximately 2.8 million years ago, which would make us the first users of tools.


Umm, no. Hominids might've emerged 2.8 million years ago, but modern homo sapiens emerged closer to ~200k years ago.
Shootist
2 / 5 (1) Apr 16, 2015
Australopitheci of one sort or another.
RobertKarlStonjek
3 / 5 (1) Apr 16, 2015
Paleoanthropology issues can be discussed at my Facebook 'Paleoanthropology Studies' group.

Find it here: (4,300 members)
https://www.faceb...ookmarks

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.