250,000-Year Old Tool Provides The Oldest Evidence Of Animal Butchering By Humans

Posted: Aug 10 2016, 1:03am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 12 2016, 10:25pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


250,000-Year Old Tool Provides the Oldest Evidence of Animal Butchering by Humans
The blade was tested positive for protein residue from rhinoceros. Credit: April Nowell

Researchers have discovered a treasure trove of tools used by Stone Age humans and these ancient tools are stained with animal residues.

Archeologists have discovered a massive collection of ancient stone tools at a dig near Azraq, Jordon and some of these tools provide the oldest evidence of animal butchering by humans. 

The stone tool contains residues of a wide range of butchered animals including horse, rhinoceros, wild cattle and duck, making them an interesting find from archeolgoical perspective. The discovery has opened a peephole into the past and provides insight into activities of early humans and how they were adapting to inhospitable conditions 250,000 years ago.

"Researchers have known for decades about carnivorous behaviors by tool-making hominins dating back 2.5 million years, but now, for the first time, we have direct evidence of exploitation by our Stone Age ancestors of specific animals for subsistence,” said lead researcher and paleoanthropologist April Nowell from University of Victoria.

“The hominins in this region were clearly adaptable and capable to taking advantage of a wide range of available prey, from rhinoceros to ducks, in an extremely challenging environment.”

Around 10,000 tools have been excavated during three-year long campaign from what is now a desert in the northwest of Jordan, but once used to be an oasis. After close examination of 7,000 tools, only 44 were selected for further testing and these include a wide range of tools from scrapers, flakes to axes and arrows. Of these tools, 17 were stained with animal residue,including blood and other animal remains.

Analysis revealed that the residues were many times more ancient than the oldest known evidences. Prior to this, the oldest animal residue found on stone tools was dated more than 11,000 years ago. The newly discovered tools give clues to the behavior and hunting skills of early humans.

“What this tells us about their lives and complex strategies for survival, such as the highly variable techniques for prey exploitation, as well as predator avoidance and protection of carcasses for food, significantly diverges from what we might expect from this extinct species,” said Novell.

“It opens up our ability to ask questions about how Middle Pleistocene hominins lived in this region and it might be a key to understanding the nature of interbreeding and population dispersals across Eurasia with modern humans and archaic populations such as Neanderthals.”



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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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