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Tool-making Hominids Inhabited Grassland Environments 2M yrs

 
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 21-10-2009 14:46    Post subject: Tool-making Hominids Inhabited Grassland Environments 2M yrs Reply with quote

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Tool-making Human Ancestors Inhabited Grassland Environments Two Million Years Ago
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091020203420.htm

Fossils, including an Antidorcas recki hemimandible and innominate, and an equid tooth, associated with flakes in Excavation 1. Scale in inches. (Credit: Thomas Plummer)

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2009) — In an article published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE on October 21, 2009, Dr Thomas Plummer of Queens College at the City University of New York, Dr Richard Potts of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History and colleagues report the oldest archeological evidence of early human activities in a grassland environment, dating to 2 million years ago. The article highlights new research and its implications concerning the environments in which human ancestors evolved.

Scientists as far back as Charles Darwin have thought that adaptation to grassland environments profoundly influenced the course of human evolution. This idea has remained well-entrenched, even with recent recognition that hominin origins took place in a woodland environment and that the adaptive landscape in Africa fluctuated dramatically in response to short-term climatic shifts.

During the critical time period between 3 and 1.5 million years ago, the origin of lithic technology and archeological sites, the evolution of Homo and Paranthropus, selection for endurance running, and novel thermoregulatory adaptations to hot, dry environments in H. erectus have all been linked to increasingly open environments in Africa.

However, ecosystems in which grassland prevails have not been documented in the geological record of Pliocene hominin evolution, so it has been unclear whether open habitats were even available to hominins, and, if so, whether hominins utilized them. In their new study, Plummer and colleagues provide the first documentation of both at the 2-million-year-old Oldowan archeological site of Kanjera South, Kenya, which has yielded both Oldowan artifacts and well-preserved faunal remains, allowing researchers to reconstruct past ecosystems.

The researchers report chemical analyses of ancient soils and mammalian teeth, as well as other faunal data, from the ~2.0-million-year-old archeological sites at Kanjera South, located in western Kenya. The principal collaborating institutions of the Kanjera project are QueensCollege of the City University of New York, the Smithsonian Institution's Human Origins Program, and the NationalMuseums of Kenya. The findings demonstrate that the recently excavated archeological sites that preserve Oldowan tools, the oldest-known type of stone technology, were located in a grassland-dominated ecosystem during the crucial time period.

The study documents what was previously speculated based on indirect evidence -- that grassland-dominated ecosystems did, in fact, exist during the Plio-Pleistocene (ca. 2.5-1.5 million years ago) and that early human tool-makers were active in open settings. Other recent research shows that the Kanjera hominins obtained meat and bone marrow from a variety of animals and that they carried stone raw materials over surprisingly long distances in this grassland setting. A comparison with other Oldowan sites shows that by 2.0 million years ago, hominins, almost certainly of the genus Homo, lived in a wide range of habitats in East Africa, from open grassland to woodland and dry forest.

Plummer and colleagues conclude that early Homo was flexible in its habitat use and that the ability to find resources in both open and wooded habitats was a key part of its adaptation. This strongly contrasts with the habitat usage of older species of Australopithecus and appears to signify an important shift in early humans' use of the landscape.

Funding from the L. S. B. Leakey Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust, the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, the Professional Staff Congress-City University of New York Research Award Program, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Kanjera field and laboratory research is gratefully acknowledged. Logistical support was provided by the Human Origins Program of the Smithsonian Institution. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


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Journal reference:

Plummer TW, Ditchfield PW, Bishop LC, Kingston JD, Ferraro JV, et al. Oldest Evidence of Toolmaking Hominins in a Grassland-Dominated Ecosystem. PLoS ONE, 2009; 4(9): e7199 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007199
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 28-10-2013 16:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Early stone tool making more sophisticated than originally thought
October 28th, 2013 in Other Sciences / Archaeology & Fossils

Professor John Gowlett and his team made the discovery at this site in Kilombe, Kenya.

Professor John Gowlett and his team made the discovery at this site in Kilombe, Kenya.

(Phys.org) —Researchers at the University of Liverpool have found that long and slender stone tools were made by human ancestors at least a million years ago – nearly twice as long ago as generally thought.

Materials such as branches, twigs, and stems were readily available to both animal and human tool makers from millions of years ago, but research at Liverpool has now shown that elongate forms were also made out of stone by human ancestors much earlier than is usually recognised.

Professor John Gowlett, as a member of an international team based on the University's Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, is working at Kilombe in Kenya, where he has found a number of hand axe tools that are very long and narrow.

Professor Gowlett said: "Psychologists have shown that moderately elongate forms are often favoured, especially those in the ratio 0.61. But there also seems to be a special attraction to far longer and slenderer forms.

"Some of the stone tools from Kilombe and other early sites are almost two and a half times as long as broad and there is no way this can occur by accident. They must have been carefully crafted.

"Usually such slender shapes are found far later in the fine blade tools made by Homo sapiens. The hand-axes were made by the earlier Homo erectus.

"As the concentrations of elongate tools are rare on the Kilombe site, they were probably made to carry out tasks of animal butchery or plant preparation which did not occur very often.

"They show that when the need arose early humans were capable of strikingly sophisticated behaviour."

The research is published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

Provided by University of Liverpool

"Early stone tool making more sophisticated than originally thought." October 28th, 2013. http://phys.org/news/2013-10-early-stone-tool-sophisticated-thought.html
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