Ancient Stone Tools Found, Likely Made by Humans Predecessors


| LAST UPDATE 02/12/2023

By Stanley Wickens
ancient stone Paranthropus discovery
Stevica Mrdja / EyeEm via Getty Images

A groundbreaking archaeological discovery has been made in southwestern Kenya - researchers have uncovered stone tools estimated to be over 3 million years old, the oldest of their kind. As for the inventors? The odds are, they weren't human...

Scientists have uncovered tools that suggest an attempt to shape the environment by ancient hominins belonging not to our direct lineage but rather to the species known as Paranthropus. The discovery has pushed back the earliest date of Oldowan technology, a tradition of toolmaking in eastern Africa dating to the beginning of the Paleolithic era. Not only that, but it reinforces theories suggesting that hominins outside our own Homo genus also used stone tools and gives archaeologists an even more detailed view into how early humans evolved over time.

Paranthropus prehistoric tools discovery
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Paleoanthropologist Emma Finestone, Assistant Curator of Human Origins at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Ohio, has recently changed her stance that Paranthropus may have been a tool user. This questioning initially arose years ago but had fallen out of favor due to Homo hominins being believed to be more intelligent and having larger teeth and jaws for food processing without using tools. New evidence from Nyayanga, an archaeological site on Lake Victoria’s shores in southwestern, Kenya suggests otherwise; after eight years examining artifacts unearthed there she is now convinced they were also users capable users of stone tools throughout their history dating back 2 million years - proof enough indeed!

Dr. Thomas Plummer and his team discovered that Paranthropus individuals were using stone tools to butcher hippopotamus bones! This counters traditionally held ideas about the species, which assumed these ancient humans relied solely on their sturdy teeth and jaws for food consumption. The findings from this study appear today in Science Magazine, offering insight into how humanity has evolved over time; adapting old skills such as tool-making to meet new demands like larger animal butchery. The tools, lying among sedimentary deposits estimated to range from 2.6 million years old up to an astounding 3 million year mark, have been attributed tentatively to Paranthropus - although other hominins such as early Homo habilis are known for their presence there too! This marks a potential turning point in our understanding of mankind's beginnings - potentially thousands upon thousand is more antiquity than we had ever thought possible before now. 

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