Evidence for stone-tool-assisted consumption of animal tissues before 3.39 million years ago at Dikika, Ethiopia

Shannon P. McPherron, Zeresenay Alemseged, Curtis Marean, Jonathan G. Wynn, Denné Reed, Denis Geraads, René Bobe, Hamdallah A. Béarat

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Abstract

The oldest direct evidence of stone tool manufacture comes from Gona (Ethiopia) and dates to between 2.6 and 2.5 million years (Myr) ago. At the nearby Bouri site several cut-marked bones also show stone tool use approximately 2.5-Myr ago. Here we report stone-tool-inflicted marks on bones found during recent survey work in Dikika, Ethiopia, a research area close to Gona and Bouri. On the basis of low-power microscopic and environmental scanning electron microscope observations, these bones show unambiguous stone-tool cut marks for flesh removal and percussion marks for marrow access. The bones derive from the Sidi Hakoma Member of the Hadar Formation. Established 40 Ar-39 Ar dates on the tuffs that bracket this member constrain the finds to between 3.42 and 3.24-Myr ago, and stratigraphic scaling between these units and other geological evidence indicate that they are older than 3.39-Myr ago. Our discovery extends by approximately 800,000 years the antiquity of stone tools and of stone-tool-assisted consumption of ungulates by hominins; furthermore, this behaviour can now be attributed to Australopithecus afarensis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-860
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume466
Issue number7308
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 12 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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    McPherron, S. P., Alemseged, Z., Marean, C., Wynn, J. G., Reed, D., Geraads, D., Bobe, R., & Béarat, H. A. (2010). Evidence for stone-tool-assisted consumption of animal tissues before 3.39 million years ago at Dikika, Ethiopia. Nature, 466(7308), 857-860. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature09248