Scientists have discovered stone tools in the Olorgesailie Basin in Kenya, pictured here, that have big implications for mankind.
Scientists had long thought that at around 40,000 to 50,000 years ago there was a “human revolution” of sorts during which mankind suddenly took on more modern behaviors like innovation and art, which may have then led to things like complex languages. But an astonishing new study examines evidence from the Olorgesailie Basin in Kenya that suggests this happened much, much earlier.
They have found some pretty innovative tools in that area, and the age of those tools goes way, way past 50,000 years mark, so the discovery came as a complete surprise to scientists. Tools dating back to around 320,000 years were smaller, sharper, and more refined than the primitive tools made by their ancestors.
And the fact that they found tools that old suggests that early humans may have been making them even earlier. Rather than crude primitive tools, these appear to be tools one would expect to find in the Middle Stone Age. They even appear to have specific techniques to prepare and retouch the tools.
“An international collaboration, including the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah, have discovered that early humans in eastern Africa had–by about 320,000 years ago–begun trading with distant groups, using color pigments and manufacturing more sophisticated tools than those of the Early Stone Age,” reads the University of Utah statement. “These newly discovered activities approximately date to the oldest known fossil record of Homo sapiens and occur tens of thousands of years earlier than previous evidence from eastern Africa. These behaviors, which are characteristic of humans who lived during the Middle Stone Age, replaced technologies and ways of life that had been in place for hundreds of thousands of years.”