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Thread: The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

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    Default The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

    The oldest stone tools "date from much earlier than the earliest humans".

    Massive caches of very early stone tools have been found in Kenya.

    Do we need to adjust our ideas about pre-human society, or change the definition of "human" ?


    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-32804177
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    Default Re: The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post

    Do we need to adjust our ideas about pre-human society, or change the definition of "human" ?]
    In the animal world, creatures like sea otters use tools to break into shells. Floating on it's back on the water surface a sea otter uses a rock gathered from the sea bed to smash the shell rested on it's chest/stomach.

    It is not an exclusively human thing to use tools.
    Last edited by Trow; 21-05-2015 at 09:20 PM.
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    Default Re: The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

    Quote Originally Posted by Trow View Post
    In the animal world, creatures like sea otters use tools to break into shells. Floating on it's back on the water surface a sea otter uses a rock gathered from the sea bed to smash the shell rested on it's chest/stomach.

    It is not an exclusively human thing to use tools.
    True, Trow. But I blame Lucy (Australopithecus). You can just see in her eye that she was happy to smash a few rocks after a night on the tiles



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    Default Re: The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

    Quote Originally Posted by Trow View Post
    In the animal world, creatures like sea otters use tools to break into shells. Floating on it's back on the water surface a sea otter uses a rock gathered from the sea bed to smash the shell rested on it's chest/stomach.

    It is not an exclusively human thing to use tools.
    It's the fabrication of tools that is more of a defining characteristic. Some examples from Kenya.

    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    The oldest stone tools "date from much earlier than the earliest humans".

    Massive caches of very early stone tools have been found in Kenya.

    Do we need to adjust our ideas about pre-human society, or change the definition of "human" ?


    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-32804177
    The earliest 'Homo' species on the fossil record were Homo Habilis dating from 2.8million years ago. These tools are dated from 3.3million years ago. However, there is no evidence to suggest that pre-Homo species were incapable of fashioning stone tools.

    The fossil record for hominid species is haphazard at best - indeed it is quite remarkable that there is any evidence of hominid species from so long ago - but it would be incorrect to think that the fossil record is anyway close to complete or that all the different hominid species that existed have been discovered.

    So - to answer CF's question - no - it is not necessary to change the definition of 'human' - it is just necessary to acknowledge that a complete record of hominid species will probably never be discovered and the best we can do is have a good interpretation of the evidence (and there are a number of conflicting interpretations currently on the go).

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    Default Re: The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

    Quote Originally Posted by Jolly Red Giant View Post
    The earliest 'Homo' species on the fossil record were Homo Habilis dating from 2.8million years ago. These tools are dated from 3.3million years ago. However, there is no evidence to suggest that pre-Homo species were incapable of fashioning stone tools.

    The fossil record for hominid species is haphazard at best - indeed it is quite remarkable that there is any evidence of hominid species from so long ago - but it would be incorrect to think that the fossil record is anyway close to complete or that all the different hominid species that existed have been discovered.

    So - to answer CF's question - no - it is not necessary to change the definition of 'human' - it is just necessary to acknowledge that a complete record of hominid species will probably never be discovered and the best we can do is have a good interpretation of the evidence (and there are a number of conflicting interpretations currently on the go).

    On the question of whether capacity for tool manufacture evolves in parallel to speech --- http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.o...nt/367/1585/75

    On the part played by labour in the transition from ape to man .... http://www.marxist.com/engels-human-...ment150600.htm
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
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    Default Re: The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

    Quote Originally Posted by Spectabilis View Post
    True, Trow. But I blame Lucy (Australopithecus). You can just see in her eye that she was happy to smash a few rocks after a night on the tiles


    She's beautiful.

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    It's the fabrication of tools that is more of a defining characteristic. Some examples from Kenya.

    You're right. Have to dig around to find examples of animals [if any] who modify things for use as a tool.

    Found this..
    Quote. Since the early 1960s when Goodall first went to Gombe, membership in the club of tool users expanded from uniquely human, to humans and chimpanzees, and now includes elephants, dolphins, octopuses, crows, ravens, rooks, jays, dingoes, and dogs (sort of). Among birds, tool use is now well-documented in corvids (crows, rooks, jays, ravens), but evidence is scant for tool use in other bird families. unquote. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/...r-his-species/

    Interesting topic, makes me wonder at what point did someone/something actually discover how to make fire.
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    Default Re: The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

    Quote Originally Posted by Trow View Post
    She's beautiful.



    You're right. Have to dig around to find examples of animals [if any] who modify things for use as a tool.

    Found this..
    Quote. Since the early 1960s when Goodall first went to Gombe, membership in the club of tool users expanded from uniquely human, to humans and chimpanzees, and now includes elephants, dolphins, octopuses, crows, ravens, rooks, jays, dingoes, and dogs (sort of). Among birds, tool use is now well-documented in corvids (crows, rooks, jays, ravens), but evidence is scant for tool use in other bird families. unquote. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/...r-his-species/

    Interesting topic, makes me wonder at what point did someone/something actually discover how to make fire.
    Thanks. The article is about animals and birds who use existing objects as tools, rather than fabricate them. Cockatoos adapt nest making skills to shape objects that they can use to get extra reach.

    I think that the mass and systematic fabrication of tools, using a stone "anvil" and using tools to make other tools, described in the OP article, is different.


    A captive parrot in an Austrian research lab near Vienna has started using tools, adding to a complex story that began more than fifty years ago in the forests of Tanzania. "During three years in the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve in Tanganyika, East Africa, I saw chimpanzees use natural objects as tools on many occasions," Jane Goodall wrote in a paper published in the journal Nature. "These objects consisted of sticks, stalks, stems and twigs, which were used mainly in connexion with eating insects, and leaves which were used as ‘drinking tools’ and for wiping various parts of the body." It is said that when Louis Leakey, another famous primatologist and Goodall's supervisor, received an excited telegram from her describing her discovery, he responded, "Now we must redefine tool, redefine Man, or accept chimpanzees as humans."

    From looking at dictionary definitions, there is no single definition of human.

    Some identify it with "Homo sapiens" which is more defined in terms of being our species, either including or not including Neantherthal and other species/subspecies - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_sapiens

    Upright posture, large brain, bi-pedality (walking on 2 legs) , tool making and having developed hands with opposable thumbs and speech are all given as features in different definitions.

    There is some work done to investigate whether speech and tool making are related development.


    Evolution takes place as some living creatures die before passing on their genes whilst others make it to have progeny and pass their genes on.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default Re: The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    It's the fabrication of tools that is more of a defining characteristic. Some examples from Kenya.

    There's a variety of tools there. Different shapes and edges for different purpose. Practical and learned. I think the journey to discovering flint shaping began with finding sharp shards of broken flint at the bottom of cliffs [for example]and someone figured out that impact was a factor. After that it would have been trial and error with different shaped and types of rocks to learn the art to sharding and shaping flint without it fragmenting or blinding you in the eye with sheer sharp shards.

    No arrowheads in the photo above.
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    Default Re: The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

    Quote Originally Posted by Trow View Post
    There's a variety of tools there. Different shapes and edges for different purpose. Practical and learned. I think the journey to discovering flint shaping began with finding sharp shards of broken flint at the bottom of cliffs [for example]and someone figured out that impact was a factor. After that it would have been trial and error with different shaped and types of rocks to learn the art to sharding and shaping flint without it fragmenting or blinding you in the eye with sheer sharp shards.

    No arrowheads in the photo above
    .
    Nice observation.

    Some pretty sharp objects there though.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
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    Default Re: The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    Nice observation.

    Some pretty sharp objects there though.
    The bottom 3 in the photo of flints above are purposely shaped imo. Ideal for working out of your finger and thumb with that curved edge and flat area to grip. Ideal for cutting animal hide as you can roll the flint slightly along it's cutting edge and can also be used for chopping.

    It's years since i worked with flint,creating decorative craft pieces. I recall the frustration at trying to master shaping edges of arrowheads as pieces would shatter completely with one wrong strike of a stone or positioning of the flint against the stone anvil. Flint has a kind of grain so selection of a piece is all important, more so when making decorative/ceremonial type knives and arrow heads.

    If you look at arrow heads in detail, they have a kind of serrated edge, it takes knowledge of the run of the grain to accomplish that along with careful methodical taps with your shaping stone.

    Those bottom 3 flint knives/hand axes in the photo above display a certain skill in their construction. Says a bit about whoever made them. They are the all rounder in your tool collection. More heavy duty and longer lasting. The kind of tool you'd carry around on a daily basis.

    When you think of the knowledge and skill needed to shape these tools think also that the tools in turn were then applied for purpose. A whole lot of learning already pre-dates this find.
    Last edited by Trow; 23-05-2015 at 12:40 PM.
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    Default Re: The Oldest Stone Tools Date from Before the First Humans

    Quote Originally Posted by Trow View Post
    The bottom 3 in the photo of flints above are purposely shaped imo. Ideal for working out of your finger and thumb with that curved edge and flat area to grip. Ideal for cutting animal hide as you can roll the flint slightly along it's cutting edge and can also be used for chopping.

    It's years since i worked with flint,creating decorative craft pieces. I recall the frustration at trying to master shaping edges of arrowheads as pieces would shatter completely with one wrong strike of a stone or positioning of the flint against the stone anvil. Flint has a kind of grain so selection of a piece is all important, more so when making decorative/ceremonial type knives and arrow heads.

    If you look at arrow heads in detail, they have a kind of serrated edge, it takes knowledge of the run of the grain to accomplish that along with careful methodical taps with your shaping stone.

    Those bottom 3 flint knives/hand axes in the photo above display a certain skill in their construction. Says a bit about whoever made them. They are the all rounder in your tool collection. More heavy duty and longer lasting. The kind of tool you'd carry around on a daily basis.

    When you think of the knowledge and skill needed to shape these tools think also that the tools in turn were then applied for purpose. A whole lot of learning already pre-dates this find.
    Intriguing that we don't know 'what' made them.
    “ We cannot withdraw our cards from the game. Were we as silent and mute as stones, our very passivity would be an act. ”
    — Jean-Paul Sartre

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