Birthplace of humanity’s tool kit: 2.6 million years, systematic stone fashioning


EXCERPT: . . . Stone artefacts are the best evidence available of the early cognitive abilities of prehistoric humans. But discoveries in recent years show that other early hominins, lines that pre-dated the Homo lineage, got in on the act too. Primitive stone tools from the Lomekwi 3 site in Kenya, for instance, date to 3.3 million years ago. Modern primates – chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys – are also known to fashion rudimentary tools. But unlike the earlier Lomekwian tools, those from BD 1 show signs of systematic manufacture, says archaeologist David Braun [...]

“By 2.6 million years ago, they were beginning to understand the relationship between the folk physics of where to strike something, and how hard to hit it, and what angles to select,” he says. The tool-makers were also aware that not all rocks were equal when it comes to fashioning a blade, however rudimentary. By combing through ancient cobble beds from the same time and region, Braun and his team found that suitable rocks – predominantly rhyolite – were overrepresented in the tool sample. “They're specifically selecting those rocks that they can make these tools out of, and even though other rocks are more abundant, they are not selecting those,” he says. (MORE - details)

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