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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:13 PM
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Earliest Known Trace of Tool Use Reported
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704216804...

An international research team working in Ethiopia has unearthed what it considers the earliest known traces of stone-tool use, potentially pushing back the advent of technology about 800,000 years to a time before the evolution of the human family.

The researchers, however, did not actually discover any stone tools or direct links to the long-extinct creatures that may have wielded them, and several specialists in human origins found the claim hard to believe.

The discovery, made public in the British journal Nature on Wednesday, consists of two fossil animal bones, dating to about 3.4 million years ago, etched by distinctive V-shaped grooves. Primordial butchers using sharp stones to fillet a carcass in ancient East Africa made those marks, the researchers said.

"It pushes back tool use almost a million years," said archaeologist Shannon McPherron at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who discovered the bones last year at Dikika, about 310 miles from Addis Ababa.

<more>
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:19 PM
Response to Original message
1. but when did GOPers start using tools,
other than Breitbart and Drudge?

That is fascinating. Just finished a great mystery novel which toyed with the idea of previous civilizations (and the many murders as people searched for proof).
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:25 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Use tools or be tools??
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 02:21 PM
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2. Why is it hard to believe?
Fongoli chimpanzees use charpened sticks to catch food. Capuchin monkeys hammer nuts with stones to break them open. Crows use sticks to chase insects out of logs. Elephants use tree limbs to dig holes and swat flies away. Otters use hammers to open abalone.

So why is it so hard to believe that an early hominid realized that a sharp rock is a good tool for stripping meat from the bones of a kill?
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 05:10 PM
Response to Original message
4. Lucys Kin Carved Up a Meaty Meal, Scientists Say
Lucys Kin Carved Up a Meaty Meal, Scientists Say
By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
Published: August 11, 2010

As early as 3.4 million years ago, some individuals with a taste for meat and marrow presumably members of the species best known for the skeleton called Lucy apparently butchered with sharp and heavy stones two large animals on the shore of a shallow lake in what is now Ethiopia.

Scientists who made the discovery could not have been more surprised. They said the cut marks on a fossilized rib and thighbone were unambiguous evidence that human ancestors were using stone tools and sometimes consuming meat at least 800,000 years earlier than previously established. The oldest confirmed stone tools are less than 2.6 million years old, perhaps only a little before the emergence of the genus Homo.

Some prominent researchers of early human evolution were skeptical, saying the reported evidence did not support such claims.

If true, though, the new find reveals unsuspected behavior and dietary habits of the Lucy species, Australopithecus afarensis. Though no hominid fossils were found near the butchered bones, A. afarensis is thought to be the only species living in this region at the time. Their large teeth with thick enamel indicated they subsisted mainly on tubers and other vegetation.

More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/12/science/12tools.html?...
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roguevalley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 02:20 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. even apes use tools for food. It would not take a lot of intellect to
use the edge of a stone to cut away at something. I love this stuff.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-12-10 08:37 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I've always thought stone tool use originated from throwing rocks to scare away carnivores from a...
Edited on Thu Aug-12-10 08:38 PM by Odin2005
kill so the hominids could take it. then one day one of them discovered that the sharp edges of a rock that had shattered when it hit the ground was useful for cutting meat.
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TheMadMonk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Aug-14-10 03:54 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. As good a speculation as any I suppose.
Perhaps it lead to deliberate attempts at producing cutting tools by throwing/dropping rocks and small boulders onto hard surfaces.

One would also speculate that eventually one noticed that certain types of "glassy" stone produced sharper and more consistent prototools.

This method of making/finding tools by picking through the shards of a broken boulder would also explain why there is such a large gap between the earliest evidence of tool use and the advent of obvious tools in the fossil record. The tools are there, there is just nothing about them that recognizably makes them a tool.

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