Some of the earliest stone tools ever used by prehistoric people were found by archaeologists in Kenya, and they date back to 2.9 million years. It proved that not only Homo Sapiens’ ancestors but also other branches of early humans used the tools.
According to the Nature World News article, the instruments were used to butcher hippos and pound plant items like tubers and fruit.
In fact, scientists believed that these “Oldowan tools”, a type of simple stone tool, were used only by the ancestors of our species and the group Homo Sapiens, which includes our closest relatives. However, on the Homa Peninsula in Kenya’s Nyayanga, an excavation site, no Homo sapiens fossils were found.
Instead, two fossil teeth belonging to Paranthropus, which had both ape and human-like features, were found with 330 stone tools. Paranthropus is a chi-footed species. Despite their sturdy heads, they were comparatively smaller in body.
Prof. Rick Potts, author of the study at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, said that these tools could crush and cut objects better than an elephant‘s molar and a lion’s canine, respectively.
Oldowan technology gave our ancestors access to a wider variety of food in the African savanna, just as a brand new tooth suddenly evolved in the body. (The tools were named “Oldowan” by archaeologist Louis Leakey in the 1930s, due to the Olduvai Gorge area in Tanzania where they were first discovered.)
The principal author of the study, anthropologist Thomas Plummer of Queens College in New York City, claims that in addition to Homo, other groups of hominins may have processed food using Oldowan technology. The question of who invented the first Oldowan tools may be revisited in light of the connection between these Nyayanga tools and Paranthropus.
In comparison to earlier primitive stone tools dating back as far as 3.3 million years, before the development of the Homo genus, the most recent discovery of Oldowan tools shows that they were a major advance in skill.