The timeline of early human evolution needs another revision with the discovery that human ancestors used tools 800,000 years earlier than previously realized.

The finding in Ethiopia, a pair of mammalian fossil bones marred by tool marks, pushes tool use back into the age of Australopithecus afarensis, an early human ancestor that lived in east Africa 3 million to 4 million years ago.

Archaeologists previously believed that early human ancestors, or hominins, started using tools 2.5 million years ago. That’s when evidence shows one of the first Homo species, Homo habilis, began butchering meat with sharpened stones. (Our species, Homo sapiens, didn’t show up until about 200,000 years ago.) But the new find is approximately 3.39 million years old, older than the famous Australopithecus fossil “Lucy,” who lived near the find site 3.2 million years ago.

Discovery Pushes Human Tool Use Back 800,000 Years, 8/11/10

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