Which human ancestor made first stone tools?

February 18, 2023 08:10 pm | Updated 08:10 pm IST

Along the shores of Africa’s Lake Victoria in Kenya roughly 2.9 million years ago, early human ancestors used some of the oldest stone tools ever found to butcher hippos and pound plant material, according to new research (Science). Though multiple lines of evidence suggest the artifacts are likely to be about 2.9 million years old, the artifacts can be more conservatively dated to between 2.6 and 3 million years old. The study presents what are likely to be the oldest examples of a hugely important stone-age innovation known to scientists as the Oldowan toolkit, as well as the oldest evidence of hominins consuming very large animals, says a release. Excavations at the site, named Nyayanga and located on the Homa Peninsula in western Kenya, also produced a pair of massive molars belonging to the human species’ close evolutionary relative Paranthropus.

The teeth are the oldest fossilised Paranthropus remains yet found, and their presence at a site loaded with stone tools raises intriguing questions about which human ancestor made those tools. The assumption among researchers has long been that only the genus Homo, to which humans belong, was capable of making stone tools. Whichever hominin lineage was responsible for the tools, they were found more than 800 miles from the previously known oldest examples of Oldowan stone tools — 2.6-million-year-old tools unearthed in Ledi-Geraru, Ethiopia. 

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.