ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopian and international scientists have found 2.6 million years old stone tools in Ethiopia’s Afar Regional State.
The newly discovered artifacts are very distinct from tools made by Chimpanzees, monkeys, and earlier human ancestors, according to the scientists who discovered the tools in a place called Ledi-Geraru.
Analysis by the researchers of early Stone Age sites, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that stone tools may have been invented many times in many ways before becoming an essential part of the human lineage.
David Braun, an archaeologist with George Washington University and the lead author on the paper, described the tools as “the oldest stone artifacts in Ethiopia and possibly the second oldest stone artifacts in the world.”
The oldest stone tools ever discovered were found in Kenya and are 3.3 million years old.
Braun said the newly discovered tools are “pieces of chipped stones were made into tools by early humans 2.6 million years ago, which are 100 thousand years older than the materials discovered also in Ethiopia’s Gona locality”.
“Even though the materials that we found are the second oldest stone artifacts found anywhere in the world, they have very little association with anything found at 3.3 million years ago,” he said.
Braun further explained that “we had expected a defined and linear relationship going from 3.3 to 2.6, but in actual fact, what we found was a gap in a very different type of technology at 2.6, suggesting that early humans first initially made stone artifacts at 3.3 and may never made them again for another 500 thousand years ago until 2.6.”
The 3.3 million years old stone artifacts found in Kenya are the first direct evidence that early human ancestors used stone tools, while the 2.6 million years flaked-stones show that human ancestors became more accurate and skilled at striking the age of stones to make tools.