The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Monday, October 20, 2014


'Lucy' Species Used Stone Tools, Fossil Study by California Academy of Sciences Says
Two stone tool modified bones from Dikika Ethiopia. The two parallel marks on the upper bone provide the oldest known evidence of tool use and meat eating by human ancestors. Dated to 3.4 million years ago, they are nearly a million years older than any previously known cut-marked fossils. AP Photo/Dikika Research Project.

By: Malcolm Ritter, AP Science Writer

NEW YORK (AP).- Two ancient animal bones from Ethiopia show signs of butchering by human ancestors, moving back the earliest evidence for the use of stone tools by about 800,000 years, researchers say.

The bones appear to have been cut and smashed some 3.4 million years ago, the first evidence of stone tool use by Australopithecus afarensis, the species best known for the fossil dubbed "Lucy," says researcher Zeresenay Alemseged.

"We are putting stone tools in their hands," said Alemseged ("Uh-lems-uh-ged") of the California Academy of Sciences, who reports the finding with colleagues in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

Some experts urged caution about the study's conclusions.

The study authors said the bones indicate the human ancestor used sharp stones to carve meat from the carcasses of large animals and other stones to smash bones to get at the marrow. One bone is a rib from a creature the size of a cow, and the other a leg bone from something the size of a goat. No stone tools were found at the site.

The researchers also called the finding the earliest evidence for meat-eating among hominins, an evolutionary group that includes people and their ancestors.

The study authors attributed the tool use to afarensis because no other hominin is known from that time in the area where the bones were found. The skeleton of a young afarensis female, dubbed "Selam," had previously been found about 200 yards away from the bone site. The Lucy fossil, which dates to 3.2 million years ago, was discovered in the same general area in 1974.

Alemseged said afarensis probably scavenged carcasses rather than hunting live animals, and ate the meat raw. The researchers said it's not clear whether the stone tools were made or were simply stones that were used as tools. But they plan to look for evidence of tool-making.

Alemseged also said that as some afarensis stripped meat from a carcass, others probably stood guard to ward off other animals in return for some of the meat, which would indicate a degree of cooperative behavior.

Until now, the earliest sign of tool use dated to about 2.6 million years ago, also in Ethiopia. It's not clear who used those tools.

Some experts were unconvinced by the Nature paper's arguments.

"I'm very cautious about the conclusions," said Nicholas Toth of Indiana University, a paleoanthropologist who studies early stone tools.

The bones were found on the surface rather than being excavated, he said. That means nobody knows exactly what layers of earth they came from, which is key to knowing their age and associating them with other bones and materials to give them context, he said.

What's more, judging from photos in the Nature paper, the bone markings differ from the marks typically left by stone tools, he said. That raises questions about whether they were actually caused by trampling or animal bites, Toth said.

In fact, those markings look like the work of crocodiles, said Tim White of the University of California, Berkeley. And they don't appear in the places on the bones that one would expect from a butchering, he said.

He also said that 30 years of searching has failed to find any stone tools as old as the bones. "It's not like people haven't been looking. People have been looking intensively," he said.

"An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary evidence," White said. "The evidence is very thin here, and very ambiguous."

But Bernard Wood of George Washington University declared, "I'd be willing to bet a month's salary that those are cut marks (from stone tools) and not tooth marks."

Wood compared the find to the famous 1978 discovery of tracks in Tanzania that showed upright walking 3.6 million years ago, most likely by afarensis.

The bone markings "are as significant a statement about early hominin behavior as the Laetoli footprints are about hominin locomotion," Wood said. While it's reasonable to assume that afarensis wielded the tools, he said, Alemseged's ideas about the butchers being guarded by other afarensis in exchange for meat is "pushing the envelope a bit far."

Wood also said the finding suggests afarensis ate meat but doesn't prove it, because maybe they cut off animal flesh just to get to the marrow.



Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

California Academy of Sciences | "Lucy" | Zeresenay Alemseged |




Today's News

August 12, 2010

More than a Dozen Multi-Million Dollar Cars Lead RM's Silver Anniversary Monterey Sale

'Lucy' Species Used Stone Tools, Fossil Study by California Academy of Sciences Says

Mumbai's Taj Hotel Reopens Sunday After 2008 Attacks

MoMA Launches Free iPhone App, Now Available on App Store

Christina Aguilera Lends Her Voice to Support the Arts

Money Fair in Boston Showcases $100,000 Bills, Rare Coins

Renowned International Artists to Display New Works at Beyond/In Western New York

Fundació Antoni Tàpies Presents a New Selection of Works from the Collection

Very Original Features: Is this United Kingdom's Oldest Home?

Martin Luther has Wittenberg, Germany in a Stir 500 Years On

Smithsonian Extends Chance to Glimpse Rare Blue Diamond

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis Appoints Dominic Molon as Chief Curator

Two Tableaux Vivants After Regent Portraits by Jan de Bray

Work Begins on Deluxe 17,000-Square-Foot Addition to Dan Morphy Auctions Gallery

It Bag, Watch Out: France's Duvelleroy Folding Fan is Back

Hannah Eidinow's New Street Theatre Commission for the Vauxhall Collective Comes to Edinburgh

Winslow Homer Classic Portrait Featured in American Treasures Stamp Series

SFMOMA to Present Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and The Camera Since 1870

Relic from Darwin's Epic Beagle Voyage for Sale at Bonhams

Rare Communion Silver Bought for Birmingham

Asia's Most Sought after Wine in Pristine Condition with Perfect Provenance

Artistic Explorations by 22 Artists at Benrimon Contemporary

Clare Twomey's First Solo Exhibition in the United States Will Be at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- 1949 Studebaker original Grateful Dead band truck from the 60's offered at Michaan's

2.- Image of a Christ without a beard, short hair and wearing a toga unearthed in Spain

3.- Agatha Christie's lost diamonds discovered in old suitcase are offered for sale at Bonhams

4.- Kama Sutra: Spirituality and Erotism in Indian Art explored in new exhibition in Paris

5.- Ancient cave drawings in Indonesia are as old as famous prehistoric art in Europe

6.- Empress Eugenie's Feuilles de Groseillier brooch to be offered at Christie's Geneva

7.- Roman Emperor Augustus' frescoed rooms unveiled for first time after years of restoration

8.- Dallas Museum of Art and University of Texas at Dallas partner to form new art history institute

9.- Degas's famous sculpture Little Dancer celebrated in exhibition at National Gallery of Art

10.- Artist Fujiko Nakaya's fog art wraps Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan

Related Stories



'Lucy' Species Used Stone Tools, Fossil Study by California Academy Says



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site