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Posts Tagged ‘Louis Leakey’

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Topic early hunting- tools

At a site in the Homa Peninsula of Lake Victoria, Kenya, scientists are uncovering stone tools and fossils that are shedding new light on their manufacture and use, as well as early human habitat and behavior.
Led by co-directors Dr. Thomas Plummer of Queens College, City University of New York and Dr. Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution, excavations at the site, called Kanjera South, have revealed a large and diversified assortment of Oldowan stone tools, fossil animal remains and other flora and faunal evidence that is building a picture of hominin, or early human, life and behavior in a grassland environment about 2 million years ago. Oldowan stone tools represent the earliest known human or hominin stone tool industry, named after the Olduvai Gorge, where Louis Leakey first discovered examples in the 1930’s. This early industry was typically composed of simple “pebble tools” such as choppers, scrapers and pounders, a type of technology used from about 2.6 to 1.7 million years ago.
According to Plummer, the site “has yielded approximately 3700 fossils and 2900 artifacts…….This represents one of the largest collections of Oldowan artifacts and fauna found thus far”.
But more significant than the numbers is what the analysis of the finds and the site has revealed.
Says Plummer, “the ca. 2.0 Ma sediments at Kanjera South…..provide some of the best early evidence for a grassland dominated ecosystem during the time period of human evolution, and the first clear documentation of human ancestors forming archaeological sites in such a setting”.
The site thus shows clear evidence that early humans of this time period were inhabiting and utilizing a grassland environment, in addition to other types of environments, a signal of critical adapatation that led to evolutionary success. Moreover, analysis of the makeup of the tools and the geography and geology of the area suggested that these hominins were transporting what they must have consideed to be the highest quality materials from relatively distant locations to produce the most effective and efficient tools for butchering animals. Cut marks made by stone blades on fossil bones, particularly small antelopes, showed signs that the animals may have been hunted, or at least encountered first, by the early humans before other preying animals reached the carcasses.
“The overall pattern of hominin access to the complete carcasses of small antelopes may be the signal of hominin hunting”, writes Plummer. “If so, this would be the oldest evidence of hunting to date in the archaeological record”.
Use of stone tools by these early humans apparently went beyond butchery.
“Thus far, the use-wear on the quartz and quartzite subsample of Kanjera artifacts confirms that animal butchery was conducted on-site, but also demonstrates the processing of a variety of plant tissues, including wood (for making wooden tools?) and tubers. This is significant, because the processing of plant materials appears to have been quite important, but would otherwise have been archaeologically invisible”.

Plummer’s detailed article about the research and findings is published in the June 12, 2012 issue of Popular Archaeology Magazine.

Original article:
popular archaeology
June 13, 2012

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