3.3-mn-year-old finds set clock back 700,000 yrs

Researchers have now reported the discovery of Lomekwi 3, a 3.3-million-year-old archaeological site where in situ stone artefacts show a developing understanding of stone’s fracture properties.

Published: May 22, 2015 4:06 am

Human evolutionary scholars have long supposed that the earliest stone tools were made by the genus Homo and that this technological development was directly linked to climate change and spread of savannah grasslands. New fieldwork in West Turkana, Kenya, has identified evidence of much earlier hominin technological behaviour.

Researchers have now reported the discovery of Lomekwi 3, a 3.3-million-year-old archaeological site where in situ stone artefacts show a developing understanding of stone’s fracture properties. Given the implications of the Lomekwi 3 assemblage for models aiming to converge environmental change, hominin evolution and technological origins, the archaeologists have proposed for it the name ‘Lomekwian’, which predates the (Leakeys’) Oldowan by 700,000 years and marks a new beginning to the known archaeological record.

These tools are much larger than Oldowan, and appear to have been knapped with techniques that were more rudimentary. They could represent a transitional technological stage, a sort of behavioural missing link, in between the pounding-oriented stone tool use of a more ancestral hominin and the flaking-oriented knapping behaviour of the later, Oldowan toolmakers.

(ADAPTED FROM STUDY ABSTRACT & ACCOUNT BY LEAD AUTHORS IN THE ‘HOUSTON CHRONICLE’)

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