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Animal bone markings show evidence that 'Lucy' species used stone tools, ate meat
Date:8/12/2010

estion that the announcement of stone tool use at 3.4 million years ago will unleash a flurry of controversy and genuine disbelief among some scholars," said Johanson. "However, I believe the team has presented a convincing case of stone tool use during Lucy's time. These unexpected results may well generate a new understanding of early hominid behavior and will prompt a reexamination of the tens of thousands of animal bones already collected from this time period at Hadar, Lucy's home, and other sites in Kenya and Tanzania.

"Very often it is breakthroughs such as this that stimulate new and expanded research strategies that promise to significantly enlarge our understanding of human origins," Johanson said.

Lead author of the Nature article Shannon McPherron observed: "Now, when we imagine Lucy walking around the east African landscape looking for food, we can for the first time imagine her doing so with a stone tool in her hand." McPherron is an archeologist with the Dikika project and research scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany. He and Alemseged led the Dikika fieldwork.

The last place early humans like Lucy wanted to be on the African landscape was in a competitive dangerous situation next to an animal carcass, noted Marean.

Yet, "these marks are unusual compared to other butchery marks I have seen," he said. "They show a lot of force, a lot of heavy action."

Marean framed the research findings as "a spectacular and exciting discovery pertaining to early human evolution." But, while the evidence shows the Australopithecines at Dikika were using sharp-edged stones to crack and strip meat from the bones, it is impossible to tell from the marks alone whether these early hominins were making their tools and carrying them, or simply finding naturally sharp rocks.

Many questions remain about the use of stone tools by human ancestors and the introduction of meat into their diet.


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Contact: Carol Hughes
carol.hughes@asu.edu
480-965-6375
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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