Researchers Find 3.3 Million Year Old Stone Tools

Posted on June 2, 2015

The West Turkana Archaeological Project (WTAP) team has found stone tools that date back to 3.3 million years ago. The stone tools were discovered at site named Lomekwi 3, which is located on the western shore of Lake Turkana in northern Kenya. These tools were made about 700,000 years earlier than the date we previously thought our ancestors were first making stone tools. The image above shows a stone tool in the process of excavation.

The research team was co-led by Drs. Sonia Harmand and Jason Lewis from Stony Brook University. They can be seen examining stone tool findings in the photograph below. The researchers say the artifacts show ancient hominins started were knapping stones over three million years ago. Knapping is a process where sharp tools are made by breaking off pieces with quick, hard strikes from another stone.

Dr. Harmand says in a statement, "These tools shed light on an unexpected and previously unknown period of hominin behavior, and can tell us a lot about cognitive development in our ancestors that we can't understand from fossils alone. Our finding disproves the long-standing assumption that Homo habilis was the first tool maker."

Dr. Harmand also says, "I have no doubt that these aren't the very first tools that hominins made. They show that the knappers already had an understanding of how stones can be intentionally broken, beyond what the first hominin who accidentally hit two stones together and produced a sharp flake would have had."

Drs. Harmand and Lewis talk about the earliest stone tools ever found and the dig site in this video from Stony Brook. They also talk about proving these ancient stone tools were knapped by hominins and explaining the evidence they uncovered. Take a look:

A research paper on the newly discovered ancient hominin tools was published here in the journal Nature.

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