Sunday, 31 May 2015

Discovered: stone tools that go back beyond earliest humans

20 May 2015, 7.18pm BST

Senior Research Fellow (Archaeology of Human Origins) at UCL

Matt Pope receives funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council and Historic England. Matt Pope is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, a council member of the Prehistoric Society and a member of the European Society for Human Evolution.

Archaeologists have discovered stone artefacts in Kenya dating back to 3.3m years ago – making them the oldest stone tools yet discovered. The finding pushes back the record of stone tools by 700,000 years. While the tools predate the earliest known representative of our own genus, Homo, it is not yet possible to pin down exactly which species created the tools.

However, the artefacts may provide a link between the kinds of stone tool used by chimpanzees and other primates for pounding and nut-cracking but which lack intentionally removed flakes and more sophisticated edged stone tools created by hominins. The findings, which add to a number of recent discoveries of the use of stone tools by early humans, could mean that time has come for us to start considering whether all hominins used tools.

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