Scientific Methods

Saturday, March 11, 2006


"Ethiopian archaeologist Sileshi Semaw (now at Indiana University) announced two years ago that he had found the world's earliest stone tools at 2.5 million years. His site of Gona sits immediately north of the Middle Awash. He and his colleagues could only speculate about which human ancestor made these earliest tools and what they were used for.

The Middle Awash discoveries now answer the question of function. At the same time, they identify Australopithecus garhi as the best candidate for toolmaker.

Antelope fossils found on the surface and in excavations show crisp, curvilinear cutmarks that could only have been made by stone tools. Some of the antelope limb bones show evidence of having been bashed open by hammerstones. These telltale traces show that by 2.5 million years ago hominids were exploiting food resources unavailable to any other primate.

The scientists say that this new evidence indicates a very early breakthrough in the human career. Methods of acquiring large quantities of high quality dietary resources (meat and marrow fat) were important because they would greatly improve our ancestors' ability to provide for themselves and their offspring."

Dr Richard Knight
Co-ordinator: National Information Society Learnerships - Ecological Informatics
Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17
Bellville 7535

Phone 27 + 21 + 959 3940
Fax 27 + 21 + 959 1237





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