"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.
|Contact: Carol Hughes|
Arizona State University