|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Thursday, May 25, 2017
|'Lucy' Species Used Stone Tools, Fossil Study by California Academy 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.
August 13, 2010
Extremely Rare 2,200-Year Old Gold Coin Uncovered by Excavations at Tell Kedesh
HBO Archives to Celebrate 75th Anniversary of the March of Time® Documentary Series
Romantics Display Opens at Tate Britain Following Major Re-Hang of the Clore Galleries
Archaeologists from Cardiff University Discover Ancient Roman Monumental Buildings
Works by Rackstraw Downes on View this Winter at the Portland Museum of Art
London Show Explores Skin as Human Body's Frontier
Tacheles: Berlin's Alternative Scene Fights for Survival
'Lucy' Species Used Stone Tools, Fossil Study by California Academy 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
NYC Seeks to Reclaim Notable Central Park Drawings
Dr. Shirley Thomson, Former Director of the National Gallery of Canada, Died
Nashville Last Stop for Masterpieces Before Works Return to Paris
Museum of Modern Art Celebrates Pioneering Filmmaker Ida Lupino
Award-Winning 'Cathy' Comic Strip Ending After 34 Years
BLM Wraps Up Meetings on Colorado River Art Proposal
New York City on Track for Record Number of Tourists in 2010
Bonhams to Sell Replica Spitfire for the Royal British Legion
Aspen Art Museum's Summer Benefit Gala artCRUSH Raises $1.5 Million
Renowned International Artists to Display New Works at Beyond/In Western New York
Muslim Gravestones Removed from Jerusalem Cemetery
South Korean Fashion Designer Andre Kim Dies at Age 74
National Museum of American History Accepts Red Hat Society Donation
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Pissarro painting seized in WW II turns up in exhibition at the Marmottan Museum
2.- First comprehensive retrospective of Mark Tobey's work in Italy opens in Venice
3.- Apple-1 still tops the list of most-wanted tech collectibles
4.- Desire, love, identity: British Museum explores LGBTQ histories
5.- Exhibition focuses on the Nazi period and the acquisitions made during those years
6.- Tate Modern opens the UK's first major retrospective of Alberto Giacometti for 20 years
7.- MFA Boston reaches agreement with estate to retain 18th century porcelain
8.- Anish Kapoor's Descension installed at Brooklyn Bridge Park
9.- United States pavilion opens with Mark Bradford's "Tomorrow Is Another Day"
10.- Venice's 57th International Art Exhibition is a tonic for global woes
'Lucy' Species Used Stone Tools, Fossil Study by California Academy of Sciences 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, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.