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Stone Tools Found In Algeria Could Rewrite Existing Theories On Human Origins

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Images of unearthed Oldowan artifacts. Researchers revealed that East Africa might not be the cradle of humanity after ancient stone tools were found in Algeria. Instead, hominins and their tools independently evolved all over Africa.   ( Science Mag )

A collection of newly discovered stone tools in Algeria believed to be 2.4 million years old is casting doubts on the early human evolutionary history. 

The findings suggest that human life existed in the region, which is located in North Africa, far earlier than initially suspected. The new discovery might strip East Africa of the title "the cradle of humanity."

The findings were published in the journal Science

Discovery Of Ancient Stone Tools In Algeria

The artifact, according to the study, looked something like the tools from the Oldowan culture, which is believed to have existed between 1.9 million and 2.6 million years ago, predating the Homo sapiens. It was unearthed while Mohamed Sahnouni and his colleagues were exploring Ain Boucherit, an archeological site in Algeria. 

Prior to the discovery, the oldest tools found in the region were 1.8 million years old. 

The team dug up a total of 252 Oldowan-style tools from the site and 19 animal bones that had cut marks which they assumed were from butchery. However, no hominin bones were found in the site so the researchers could not say who made the tools. 

To date the artifacts, the researchers used several methods. First, they looked at the site. While the geology of the Algerian plateaus where Ain Boucherit barred the researchers to use highly accurate dating techniques, rocks from the region recorded time via the signals from Earth's magnetic field throughout history. 

The animal bones also provided clues. The researchers identified the bones as extinct species of pigs, horses, and elephants. By looking at the time frame in which these animals lived in Africa and comparing it to the magnetic calendar, the team concluded that the newly unearthed stone tools were from between 1.92 million to 2.44 million years ago.  

The Cradle Of Humanity

Sahnouni said that the discovery can be explained in two ways: the tools were from the same hominins who made the ones found in East African Oldowan that spread northwest or the hominins and the stone tools evolved independently in different parts of Africa.

The researcher added that he favored the second explanation because it seems less likely that hominins "just decided to get to the north and started walking." He added that the distance was not easy to cross. They also had to look for food and other resources which would take time. 

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