Nearly 3 million years ago, hominids employed stone tool kits to butcher hippos and pound plants along what’s now the shores of Kenya’s Lake Victoria, researchers say.
Evidence of those food preparation activities pushes back hominids’ use of these tool kits, known as Oldowan implements, by roughly 300,000 years, say paleoanthropologist Thomas Plummer of Queen’s College, City University of New York and colleagues. That makes these finds possibly the oldest known stone tools.
Several dating techniques place discoveries at the Kenyan site, known as Nyayanga, at between around 2.6 million and 3 million years old. Based on where artifacts lay in dated sediment layers, these finds are probably close to about 2.9 million years old, the scientists report in the Feb. 10 Science.
Until now, the oldest Oldowan tools dated to roughly 2.6 million years ago at an Ethiopian site more than 1,200 kilometers north of Nyayanga. Excavations at another site in Kenya, called Lomekwi 3, have yielded large, irregularly shaped rocks dating to about 3.3 million years ago. But claims that these finds, which include some sharp edges, represent the oldest known stone tools are controversial. [Continue reading…]