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Tools Used by Early Humans 800,000 Years Earlier Than Previously Thought

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posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 02:25 PM
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Fossilized bones scarred by hack marks reveal that our human ancestors were using stone tools and eating meat from large mammals nearly a million years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study that pushes back both of these human activities to roughly 3.4 million years ago



The first known human ancestor tool wielder and meat lover was Australopithecus afarensis, according to the study, published in the latest issue of Nature. This species, whose most famous representative is the skeleton "Lucy," was slender, toothy and small-brained.



The fossilized bones were found sandwiched between volcanic deposits, which permitted reliable dating of them.



"This is a kind of find that will force us to revise our human evolution and anthropology textbooks."


news.discovery.com...

I saw this and found it fascinating, so I wanted to share with you all. 800,000 years is a huge change in the time line of first documented tool use. Follow the link for the full article.

Enjoy!

EDIT to add additional sources:

www.sciencedaily.com...

www.sciencenews.org...

[edit on 11-8-2010 by Aggie Man]




posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 03:09 PM
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reply to post by Aggie Man
 
Good call Aggie


I like this guy Alemseged. He's been in the midst of interesting finds over the past year. We seem to keep extending the time-frames for tool use and it's just fascinating.

At some point in our history, one or more hominims had the inspiration to use a sharp edged stone to cut meat off a carcass. As others fought to use teeth and hands to pull the meat off...he or she would have sat back with a good cut and been pretty damn pleased.

As they settled down with a cutting tool in one hand and food in the other, they couldn't possibly have realised what it would all lead to.



posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 03:31 PM
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Great find.

I've always supported the idea that our predecessor species were capable of far more than most people would admit to.

I'm one that thinks H. Erectus might've been a mariner.

Nice job, Aggie Man!


Harte



posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 03:32 PM
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reply to post by Kandinsky
 


Well said Kandinsky! It's absolutely amazing how far we have come in 3.4-million years. Even more amazing, actually astounding, how far we have come in the last 100-years. If only we could see 100-years into the future...I suspect this planet will look quite alien; technologically speaking anyway.




posted on Aug, 11 2010 @ 11:08 PM
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well...so we push tool usage back by nearly a million years.

what does that say about the subsequent evolutionary steps? Does that mean that you might start re-evaluating more recent data?

I know that you have to find evidence to go from. However, it would seem that the starting point of the run up to the current knowledge may have shaded all subsequent interpretations.

It is interesting. But i have a untrusting mindset. It mostly confirms my own suspicion that none of them really know what they are talking about. it is all dramatic guesses. Not to discount the valuable work done thus far...just that if you keep finding out how wrong you are, how can you continue to be so certain about what you still think is correct?



posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 01:34 AM
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reply to post by bigfatfurrytexan
 
In a sense, they're stretching the fabric and it still holds its shape. A point that's made me stroke my chin and ponder a lot, is the meat and tool aspect. If we didn't eat meat, we possibly wouldn't have evolved past the afarensis model. We could be an upright ape picking berries while another species was top of the food chain. Or perhaps this world would become abundant and diverse without a dominant species?

Current evolutionary biology points the finger at fish and meat for providing the increased fat and energy that enabled our brains to develop and set us on the road to here. So the tool use allowed for more and larger prey to kill. At the same time, the tool use has also led to technology and mentality of the arms race.

So I wondered what path we might have taken if we didn't eat meat and tool use never arose. Then I thought how South America monkeys use rocks to crack nuts and African chimps use wooden clubs to bash in nests for honey.

I guess no matter what the tool (stone or wood club), we were doomed or destined to become what we've become. Slightly depressing thought...



posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 10:10 AM
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reply to post by Kandinsky
 


What i was getting at is that there is a major piece missing. Humans are nothing if not crafty. I cannot imagine hundreds of thousands of years with anything remotely human not being able to figure anything out more than simple tool use.

I have been fascinated with concepts related to the "bicameral mind" theory, and wonder if this might have something to do with it. That that theory in particular, but rather a related concept. As if there was this sudden "a-ha" moment.

Then i start thinking about the "100 monkey" theory (which i found a really good article on, discussing the phenomenon in a scientific manner related to cognition).



posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 11:15 AM
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reply to post by bigfatfurrytexan
 


I think I know where you are coming from. It took so long to go from simple tool use to what we have now, but why. 4 million years to start building lasting monuments such as the pyramids seems to be a long time, but could it have taken that long for the need to arise?

It is still interesting none the less.



posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 12:57 PM
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reply to post by bigfatfurrytexan
 
Sorry. I understood what you were thinking and went off on what I was thinking instead


The extra million years has been skirting my thoughts since the thread was posted. Bear in mind the findings are still provisional. From a rational perspective, the lack of great progress can begin to be explained through a variety of environmental factors.

Our greatest advances have come about when we've had enough resources available to allow for leisure time. Leisure time allowed for increased communication, more language, more shared ideas and time to improve the technologies we were using. At the same time, too much leisure time creates a lack of progress due to less conflict or survival drivers. Infant birth rates, longer pregnancies and extended infancy would be another factor.

I'm not trying to explain away the mystery of why we remained technologically kind of static...just sharing my thoughts. It's hard to wrap our imaginations around the processes of a couple million years when we have such a limited/disjointed view of anything that occurred in that time frame.

You're right about crafty hominids seeming to miss opportunities to advance the technology. I wonder how long chimps have been poking sticks in tree bark for critters to eat? Maybe they've been repeating the same behaviour for tens of thousands of years? The 100 monkeys idea could have some kernel of truth if it's applied to a much greater number. It sure is a head scratcher



posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 01:29 PM
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reply to post by Kandinsky
 


You nail it with the question about how long chimps have been poking sticks into trees to eat ants. How long HAS that been happening? What does it take to push the static intellectual progress forward in a meaningful manner?

I understand that the Mazlow principle would definitely make intellectual improvements easier, but it does not seem that we would have had sudden leisure time when we burst on the scene with technological marvels, after over a million years of poking sticks into trees. Just like the idea of eating a diet higher in fats would cause change. I am sure you need the nutrients to build with, but having the nutrients there does not help bears, or monkeys, or racoons (the latter two have fairly articulated hands).

It is like there was a switch that got turned on. That turned us into intellectual creatures. Something that created wonder and introspection as a part of our daily life. That point has not yet been identifed, or really discussed in terms that seem reasonable to me.

It is just something i wonder about myself. What was it that turned us from hunter gatherers into artists? Mazlow does not seem to explain that so well, as much art is found in areas that were fairly frigid during the times they were created. Leisure and arctic conditions are not mated very often in ancient times.



posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 02:04 PM
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I find this extrememly interesting.

It brings to mind this thought I had recently.

What if the method of carbon-dating is flawed? Basically, what if the way in which scientists come to date things is inaccurate?

Think of all the science that has been built on the age of items. Those items that can't be carbon-dated are sometimes assumed to be close in age to something found next to it that can be carbon-dated.

Think of the ideas that have been built on the foundation carbon-dated objects. Would we have to rethink our entire historical perspective?

Just positing an abstract idea.



posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 02:19 PM
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reply to post by indianajoe77
 


So far as I understand it, the decay of carbon isotopes is something you could set your clock by; meaning that there is a definitive rate of decay...a mathematical constant. Of course, this is only accurate when dating something that contains carbon, as using anything else near it would make the assumption that they both have the same date of creation.

In the case of the OP articles, this find was dated using geologic time lines.



posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 02:23 PM
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Originally posted by bigfatfurrytexan
well...so we push tool usage back by nearly a million years.

what does that say about the subsequent evolutionary steps? Does that mean that you might start re-evaluating more recent data?


I sure hope it means the average man will start re-evaluating things!

Of course, I read the science daily news site regularly. It's pretty sad how few people know what is already known by scientists about history and how humans developed.


It is interesting. But i have a untrusting mindset. It mostly confirms my own suspicion that none of them really know what they are talking about. it is all dramatic guesses. Not to discount the valuable work done thus far...just that if you keep finding out how wrong you are, how can you continue to be so certain about what you still think is correct?


I think you can be really certain about things if you have all the information right there and laid out for you. If they'd had this stuff 60 years ago, I'm sure they would have come up with the same answer. But to me, studying human history is like studying a giant complicated puzzle with a billion pieces (some of which are lost on the lawn or in the woods or thrown into the lake.) You just don't walk up to a 25,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and go "Oh! It's a picture of a duck and a cow and three rose bushes and it was photographed in Dresden 35 years ago and if you look close you can see the farm implements... " (and so on and so forth.)

You get a piece and say "it's blue. maybe it's sky. Look for the other bits that connect to it." And if you find them, maybe you change your mind and say "no...it's not sky. It's a car (or a dress or the lake or a picnic blanket or a bird or....)"



posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 02:28 PM
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Originally posted by indianajoe77
What if the method of carbon-dating is flawed? Basically, what if the way in which scientists come to date things is inaccurate?
...

Think of the ideas that have been built on the foundation carbon-dated objects. Would we have to rethink our entire historical perspective?


There's some sort of mythic thinking going around that says "scientists dated something. Therefore they carbon dated it." After reading Science Daily for years, I know that they don't use carbon dating very often. And I know that (from my own science textbooks which were from BEFORE carbon dating was popular) they dated things in the past and the dates haven't changed THAT much for most stuff (like the age of the dinosaurs and all that.)

So I don't think it would change a lot of things. It might change their opinion of the date of the Shroud of Turin but not much history hangs on that. It might change their idea of when Chaco Canyon was inhabited but that would not affect much.

It might change the dating of some of the oldest pieces of the Christian gospels... but again that's not gonig to overturn history because most people don't care that the oldest fragments come from 200 AD (had to look it up because of that really weird thread on "has the original Bible been found" and all the stuff they were posting that just didn't seem right.)

So, no. Not lots.



posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 02:40 PM
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reply to post by bigfatfurrytexan
 
Your post illustrates the process by which these small increments of progress have been made. I've had the same thoughts. Two guys from different environments, with different backgrounds can have similar ideas.

It's like trying to pin the credit for the invention of the telephone, television or discovery of Neptune on one person. These example show at least two/three unconnected people having the same idea.

Instead of one afarensis realising how handy a sharp-edged stone could be, there might have been a few having the same idea in unconnected groups or regions. Now, it could be by some 'collective unconscious' unknown mechanism...or it could be through an inevitable conclusion based on shared experience and facts. I don't rule either idea out and favour the second.

The 'switch' idea is compelling and supported by some interesting theories. If you google 'great leap forward' or 'palaeolithic revolution' you'll find some great ideas about how we seemed to cross over into art and music around 40kya. It's interesting stuff.

In this area I let science be the compass, but prefer to chart my own course.



posted on Aug, 12 2010 @ 02:45 PM
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reply to post by Indellkoffer
 
It's good to see you posting. Before I signed up to ATS, you were one of the members who's posts I enjoyed reading.



posted on Aug, 13 2010 @ 10:17 AM
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Great article.

I laugh every time these articles came out.

It's not like people evolved to the point where they could master astronomy, architecture, acupuncture, health, etc; build the pyramids and then die off.

The series of deluges that occurred 3500 b.c. and before changed man for the worst and we need to get back to those original roots quickly.



posted on Aug, 13 2010 @ 11:21 AM
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O come on people if you want to really get down on it chimps use tools .
Thye have been seen using spears they MADE to kill other monkeys with.
every one knows they use a small stick to fish for bugs.
a gorilla was seen using a long pole to test water depth to cros a river safely (they cant swim)
heck dolphins use tools some birds use tools .
what in would count as finly being human isnt tool use its the use of fire controlled No other animal has pulled that off .
tool use is no big deal as many other animals use tools if we were to make a list it would be 12 to 20 animals alest.



posted on Aug, 13 2010 @ 11:26 AM
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snip from the (OP) linked article:


The fossilized bones were found sandwiched between volcanic deposits, which permitted reliable dating of them. Before this discovery, the world's oldest human evidence for butchery dated to 2.5 million years ago and came from Bouri and Gona, Ethiopia. No human remains were found in association with those fossilized prey bones, but A. afarensis remains were previously unearthed near the recent Afar Region discoveries.

Since the Afar stone tools were transported to the kill or scavenge site from nearly four miles away, A. afarensis must have valued the sharp objects. What's unclear, however, is whether or not the ancient hominids made the stones themselves, or just picked already sharp stones up from the ground.


reply: a whole lot of assumptions going on ...
such as the 'Lucy'relatives or associated group members,
inhabiting the (new) site which must have been within their hunting range (some 4 miles distant from the 'Lucy' fossilized bones)

whatever did the bone scraping, were pre-humans ...and not directly human 'ancestors'... but the term human predecessors would not have as much 'magic' & appeal would it?

fluff...
well.... I'll admit, 'Interesting Fluff' none the less

thanks for the item to dissect



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