A new study has revealed that our ancestors might have started using stone tools and butchered animals with those tools nearly 8,00,000 years earlier than thought previously. The notion came after the study of two 3.4 million-year-old bones of animal found in Ethiopia that had markings of human hitting.
The two bones contain 12 marks on them to which researchers believe are not natural but caused by our meat-eating ancestors. “Our analysis clearly shows that the marks on these bones are not characteristic of trampling,” said lead author Jessica Thompson, an assistant professor of anthropology at Emory University in US. “The best match we have for the marks, using currently available data, would still be butchery with stone tools,” Thompson said.
The bones — one that appears like a long bone of antelope-like creature and second, a rib bone of animal nearly the size of a buffalo, resemble a purposeful cutting that suggests our ancestors might have known how to stone tools very early than thought, said Thompson.
The current study supports the previous study published in the journal Nature back in 2010 it said that the two bones represent butchery cutting, it isn’t natural and humans must have done that. The finding raised eyebrows of many scientists since it gave birth to a new idea and pushed back stone tools practice age by 8,00,000 years.
Then came another study the very next year in 2011 published in the journal PNAS which said that bones had incidental marking in abrasive sediments.
However. the current study published in The Journal of Human Evolution supports the older study. For the study, Thompson and her co-authors analyzed more than 4,000 samples of bones from the same deposits. Researchers further used statistical analysis and compared more than 450 marks found on bones with experimentally created marks. After observing very closely, study authors came to a conclusion that marks on two bones were manmade and not natural.
Thompson said that humans started using stone tools 2.8 million years ago instead of 2.6 million years ago as thought previously.
He explained that researchers now experiment with modern-day bones, modify it, hit it with hammer stones and compare it with old-day bones to check whether they have same characteristics.