Stone tools in use for 3.3m years

Stone tools were being used 3.3 million years ago by creatures that pre-dated the earliest known ancestors of modern humans, scientists have learnt.

The discovery, in Kenya, pushes back the origins of the archaeological record by almost a million years.

Until now it was thought that stone tool culture began around 2.6 million years ago with the appearance of Homo habilis, or “handy man”, the earliest known member of the human genus family that includes people living today.

The new tool artefacts, unearthed from the Lomekwi 3 archaeological site next to Lake Turkana in Kenya predates the “Oldowan” Homo habilis tools by around 700,000 years.

Scientists found a collection of anvils, hammer stones, worked cobbles and cores for making sharp edges used for cutting.

The makers of the Lomekwi tools had a strong grip and good co-ordination, but may not have been quite human.

Markings on the stones indicate they were used vigorously to pound items or produce sharp flakes. But the arm and hand motions involved were probably more like those chimpanzees use to crack nuts than clearly recognisable human actions, the scientists believe.

Writing in the journal Nature, the team led by Sonia Harmand, from Stony Brook University, US, said: “The technological features of flakes and flake fragments are clear, unequivocal and seen repeatedly.


Dr Sarah Miller is the CEO of Dublin’s Rediscovery Centre, the national centre for the Circular Economy in Ireland. She has a degree in Biotechnology and a PHD in Environmental Science in Waste Conversion Technologies.‘We have to give people positive messages’

When I was pregnant with Joan, I knew she was a girl. We didn’t find out the gender of the baby, but I just knew. Or else, I so badly wanted a girl, I convinced myself that is exactly what we were having.Mum's the Word: I have a confession: I never wanted sons. I wanted daughters

What is it about the teenage years that are so problematic for families? Why does the teenage soul rage against the machine of the adult world?Learning Points: It’s not about the phone, it’s about you and your teen

Judy Collins is 80, and still touring. As she gets ready to return to Ireland, she tells Ellie O’Byrne about the songs that have mattered most in her incredible 60-year career.The songs that matter most to Judy Collins from her 60-year career

More From The Irish Examiner