Stone chips made by modern-day apes raise fundamental questions about early humans

The invention of stone tools is considered one of the most important events in human history, and based on the traces, its history goes back to millions of years ago. Early stone tools, a significant number of which have been found at sites with remains of ancient humans and our modern ancestors, were relatively simple.

to report Science AlertArchaeologists believe that these tools were actually the core of stones that were used by early humans to make sharp tools used in tasks such as butchering, chopping, scraping and cutting. These simple tools later provided the introduction to the construction of more complex technologies.

The use of tools is not limited to humans, and a number of other primates also used various tools to perform impact work such as breaking food grains or shells, grinding seeds, and digging roots. Crab-eating macaques have probably been using rocks to crack edible seeds and shells for thousands of years. The living environment of these animals is always full of small stones that they have broken for their various uses.

After collecting some of these broken stones, Proffitt and his colleagues analyzed them and compared them with stone tools used by ancient humans. After conducting detailed investigations, they found that in the absence of behavioral evidence, there is a possibility that archaeologists may have considered the pieces broken by macaques as evidence of tool making by primates.

According to Proffitt, macaques using stone tools to break food grains is not a strange matter; Because they also use different tools to access sea shells. He goes on to say that macaques have created a unique archaeological record for themselves and in some cases, the tools used by them are indistinguishable from human artifacts.

When macaques crack edible seeds or shells, they inadvertently produce cone-shaped stone chips with sharp edges similar to those seen in the archeological record of hominids. However, macaques do not use these chips; Because when a stone tool is broken, its fragments are useless to the animal, and they look for other tools.

Proffitt and his team scrutinized these broken stone chips and found that many of them had characteristics used to identify deliberately man-made tools at archaeological sites. This finding is probably not surprising; Because macaques break food grains by placing them on a stone anvil and then hit them with another stone. Early stone tools were made by pounding one stone against another; Therefore, it can be said that the action and the result are the same and only the purpose of doing the work is different.

According to the researchers, the recent findings are the largest data collection of chips and sheet stones produced randomly by non-human primates. In the future, they say, the data will help distinguish between chips made by human and nonhuman primates. In addition, the recent findings of scientists open a window to our own past.

Lydia Loncks“Some believe that breaking food grains using stone hammers or anvils, which some primates still do today, is a possible precursor to the deliberate production of stone tools,” says archaeologist from the Technological Primates Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. have been.” According to Lonkes, this research and previous research published by their group will open the door to identifying this archaeological signature in the future.

This study in Science Advances magazine It has been published.

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