Our African human ancestors might have been handy with tools, half a million years earlier than it was believed, study shows.
After studying the fossils of the hands and wrists of Australopithecus Africanus, our ancient human ancestor who lived 3,5 million years ago, researchers discovered that these early humans might have been handling stone tools much earlier than it was originally believed. Archeology records reported the appearance of stone tools, around 2.6 million years ago.
Now, the new discovery doubts the previous theory saying that Homo Habilis had been the first human ancestor able to make and handle tools.
One interesting evidence has been found in the trabecular bone of the skeleton. The trabecular bone, also known as spongy bone, is a type of osseous tissue that helps forming bones. The property of this specific bone is that it is very flexible and can change slightly mold on situations, like accommodating to a repetitive action. This lead scientists to be able to determine whether a human has used tools or not. The fossil found in South Africa’s Swartkrans Cave, had large quantities of spongy bone at the base of the thumb and in the knuckles from the third and fifth finger of their hand, resemblant to homo sapiens.
The spongy bone structure of chimpanzees, orangutans or gorillas, is totally different, because their bones accommodated to climbing.
The way the internal structure of their bone proved to be, reflected that certain Australopithecus, like Australopithecus Africanus has indeed used stone tools, explained archaeologist Darren Curnoe, of the University of NSW. Even though he has not been involved in the research, he mentioned that a discovery like this one will change world of archeology and the former beliefs regarding our ancient African ancestors.
Australopithecus Africanus seem to have had a sophisticated way of developing stone tolls, which must have been the principal aid of surviving in the unfriendly African savannah, added archeologist Curnoe.
Even if the study would somehow turn out to be misleading, and Australopithecus Africanus was not actually using tools, their bone structure showed that they were able to grab on stone tools and handle them with precision.
Australopithecus africanus was one of the earliest of the human ancestors, and until the present, archeologists, have discovered in Eastern Africa, the fossils of over 300 individuals.
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