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Pre-human tools used much earlier than thought

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Zwei von Steinwerkzeugen bearbeitete Knochen, die im äthiopischen Dikikia gefunden worden sind. Sie beweisen: Der Mensch nutzt Werkzeuge schon viel früher als bisher bekannt. Quelle: dpa

Two worked stone tools bones have been found in Ethiopian Dikikia . They prove that man uses tools much earlier than previously known. Source: AP

HB LEIPZIG. The ancestors of man have already used much earlier than previously thought tools. Accordingly, it could cut 3.4 million years ago in this way meat from bones and break the bones to get at the marrow. That is one million years earlier than previously thought. The proof makes a spectacular find from Ethiopia. The discovery was made by Shannon McPherron researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and Zeresenay Alemseged of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

The Ethiopian Afar region found in the animal bones show that already " Lucy’s " own kind – the hominid Australopithecus afarensis – Tools used , as the experts writing in the journal " Nature " (No. 7308 , p. 857-860 ). "Lucy "is called the skeleton of a female Australopithecus afarensis , found in 1974 in Ethiopia. Researchers named the fossil after the Beatles song "Lucy in the sky with diamonds ".

"If we think of Lucy when traveling through the East African landscape in search of food, we see them the first time with a stone tool in the hands of flesh search ", the archaeologist McPherron said after a communication from the Max- Planck -Gesellschaft.

"This discovery pushes the hitherto unknown date forward significantly , from our ancestors , the rules of the game changed completely , "said Alemseged . The use of tools has changed the way our ancestors with nature fundamentally. New food was eaten and new territories are opened up. The paleoanthropologist goes even further : The use of such items "led also to produce new tools – the precursors of advanced technologies such as aircraft , magnetic resonance imaging and iPhone. "

The earliest evidence of the slaughter of animals with stone tools so far came from Bouri in Ethiopia. They were dated to 2.5 million years ago. The oldest previously known stone tools , 2.6 to 2.5 million years old.

The newly discovered fossil animal bones date back to studies of deposits of tufa and volcanic material to 3.4 million years. They found themselves close to the point where scientists have " Lucy’s Baby " – called " Selam "- were discovered . " Selam "was a girl of the hominid species Australopithecus afarensis , which lived about 3.3 million years ago.

The bones are from two animals , about the size of a goat and a cow. The fragments of ribs and a femoral point cut , impact , and Schabspuren . Even a tiny piece of stone wedged in the bone was found.

With their discovery , researchers are now faced with new puzzles. Whether the animals were hunted and killed, or whether these human ancestors were scavengers that can be said not yet .

According to Max Planck researchers McPherron the stones are in the deposits under investigation at the site for manufacturing tools mostly too small. "The hominids were living in this place that is probably stone tools with them, which came out better raw material from another place . "

The researcher will therefore return to Ethiopia in order to find evidence of "whether our ancestors at this early stage tool not only used but also self- produced ".