A collection of prehistoric stone tools and slaughtered animal bones was discovered in 1992 at the archaeological site Ain Boucherit on the northeastern High Algerian plateau to 2.4 million years. This dating challenges the current evolutionary paradigm that East Africa was the "cradle of humanity," as it is about the same age as the oldest known tools found in Gona, Ethiopia, 2.6 million years ago.
The research was published in the journal Science and an article in Nature stating: "The oldest known stone tooling technology, called Oldowan, is thought to have existed about 2.6 million years ago originated in East Africa and then spread throughout the continent. "This discovery, however, suggests that tool production" has originated independently in different parts of Africa. "
Reconstructed skull of an Australopithecus garhi, one of the species that used Oldowan-like stone tools (Ji-Elle / CC BY SA 3.0)
A scenario with multiple origins for humanity?
The archaeologists report in . Science says that the tools' typical of the ber Oldowan stone tools known in East Africa were "uncovered" near dozens of fossilized animal bones, with cut marks from early crocodiles, elephants and hippos, and archaeologists believe this could be evidence of meat eating.
Oldovan artifacts, including unifacial cores on limestone (1 and 9); Bifacial core of limestone (10) and flint (2); polyhedral cores on limestone (11 and 12); subspherical nucleus on limestone (3); whole flakes on flint (7, 16 and 17) and on limestone (4, 5, 6, 13 and 14); and retouched pieces on flint (8 and 15). Sahnouni, M. et al. .)
These new findings suggest that hominins were believed to be around 600,000 years earlier in North Africa, and according to an article in The Independent ] also means: "Human ancestors may have gone much earlier than thought". Professor Mohamed Sahnouni from the National Research Center for Human Evolution in Spain, who led the research, said: "One hypothesis is that our early ancestors quickly carried stone tools with them from East Africa and to other regions, another is a multi-origins scenario, in The evidence from Algeria shows that the cradle of humanity was not confined to East Africa, but the entire African continent was the cradle of humanity, "added Professor Sahnouni adds.
Battle for the Planet of the Apes
"But who made the tools?" Asks an Ar article New Scientist . "At Ain Boucherit there are no human fossils, therefore the toolmaker's identity unclear Hominin evolution 2.4 million years ago was in flux. Successful earlier hominins, darunt he Australopithecus began to disappear, and early types of Homo took over. "Professor Sahnouni suspects:" The Algerian tools were made from one of these early Homo species. "Professor Jessica Thompson of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, who was not involved in the study, told New Scientist reporters," If I had a line-up and I had to pick one, that would be the case of me would choose.
The original complete skull (without upper teeth and lower jaw) of a 2.1 million year old Australopithecus africanus specimen, the so-called Mrs. Ples, discovered in South Africa. (José Braga, Didier Descouens / CC BY SA 4.0)
However, it is also Professor Thompson who gives skepticism to some of the scientists' claims, for For example, if the stones actually agree with tools, she is unconvinced that the animal bones are covered with cut marks because "natural processes can similarly scratch the surface of bones. "In addition, Thompson also denies the dating of the stone tools It is not quite 2.4 million years old, since this date assumes that soil and sediment accumulate at Ain Boucherit with constant speed.
Evidence of Hominin Activity from Ain Boucherit Faunal Assemblages. (A and B) Section mark on a medium-sized bovid humeral shaft (A) with detail of the SEM image (B). (C and D) Cutmarked Equid Calcaneum (C) with detailed image of SEM uptake (D). (E) Hammerstone medium-sized long bone. (F) bone flake. (G) Equid tibia with cortical percussion notch. Sahnouni, M. et al. )
Whether the markings on the bones are natural or carved by hand will be shown only by time, but Professor Sahnouni and his colleague Mathieu Duval concluded in a joint article: "This new discovery modifies our understanding of the timing and diffusion of Oldowan Stone Tool Technology in Africa and beyond the continent."
Picture above: An Oldowan Stone Toolkit located in Ain Boucherit, Algeria, was freshly dug. Source: M. Sahnouni
By Ashley Cowie