Researchers have stated that stone tools recently unearthed in Kenya are the oldest ever found. They added that the tools are at least 700,000 years older than any discovered before.
The findings of the excavation were presented at the annual meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society in San Francisco. The researchers added that the primitive stone tools were likely made by one of modern man’s ancestors, a hominid from the genus Australopithecus.
Sonia Harmand, an archaeologist at Stony Brook University in New York, and the lead author of the study, said, “The artifacts were clearly knapped [created by intentional flaking] and not the result of accidental fracture of rocks.”
The researchers stated that the tools, which were found along the shores of the African country’s Lake Turkana, have been dated to 3.3 million years ago. They added that there is strong evidence that our earliest ancestors were making and using tools hundreds of thousands of years before the modern Homo lineage arose around 2.8 million years ago.
John Hawks, a University of Wisconsin anthropologist who wasn’t involved in the findings, said, “The obvious implication is that stone tools were invented and used by multiple lineages of early hominins. Just as there were different styles of body shape and bipedal mechanics among early hominins, there were likely different styles of technical traditions.”
The findings support an earlier study, which discovered animal bones from 3.4 million years ago bearing cut marks, which suggested that humans made the cuts using stone tools.
The researchers added that the discovery of the tools was an accident. The researchers stated that they had been looking for remains of an ancient human relative, Kenyanthripos platyops, when they took a wrong turn and ended up at a different site known as Lomekwi 3, just to the west of Lake Turkana. After finding some tools on the surface, they dug deeper and eventually recovered almost 20 preserved flakes, source stones and anvils used as bases on which to knapp stones.