Ape With a Knife Changes Human History

Carved bones found in Africa show Stone Age began a million years earlier
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2010 2:03 AM CDT
Ape With a Knife Changes Human History
An artist's model shows "Lucy," based on the 3.2 million year old Australopithecus afarensis skeleton found in Africa. Now scientists believe Lucy was already using stone tools to cut and eat meat.   (AP Photo / Michael Stravato)

It turns out that human ape Australopithecus afarensis Lucy likely used some kind of stone knife to eat meat 800,000 years earlier than previously thought, which has suddenly cast human history in a new light. The discovery of fossil animal bones showing evidence of being butchered 3.4 million years ago means the Stone Age began nearly a million years earlier than now calculated. "This find will force us to revise our text books on human evolution, since it pushes the evidence for tool use and meat eating in our family back by nearly a million years," said Dr. Zeresenay Alemseged of the California Academy of Sciences.

Alemseged headed a team that found the fossils in Ethiopia, close to the spot where Lucy's fossils were found some three decades ago. "It is profound. We can now picture Lucy walking around the east African landscape with a stone tool in her hand scavenging and butchering meat," said colleague Shannon McPheron. "We have shown that two key aspects of our evolution—meat eating and stone tool use—took place much further back in our history." Until now, the oldest known evidence of butchering with stone tools on fossils came from Ethiopia and were dated to about 2.5 million years ago, reports the Telegraph. The fossils found this time belonged to two animals, one cow-sized, and the other the size of a goat.
(More Australopithecus afarensis stories.)

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