700,000-year-old tool discovery raises question of evolution of human intelligence

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In this undated photo made available in May 2015 by the Mission Prehistorique au Kenya - West Turkana Archaeological Project, Sonia Harmand holds a stone tool found in the West Turkana area of Kenya. This and other artifacts, dated at 3.3 million years old, are much older than the earliest known trace of our own branch of the evolutionary family tree. So it’s a new challenge to the traditional idea that only members of our branch made stone tools. The discovery was reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. (MPK-WTAP via AP)

Was there someone before human existence who had the same or may be higher intelligence level? A research conducted by scientists in the deserts of north western Kenya tries to answer this question after they found tools that dated back at least 700,000 years.

The tools, whose makers may or may not have been some sort of human ancestor, poses a challenge to the notion that our own most direct ancestors were the first to bang two rocks together to create new technology.

The discovery is the first evidence of an even earlier group of proto-humans who may have had the thinking abilities needed to figure out how to make sharp-edged tools.

Geologist Chris Lepre said the whole site was surprising; “it just rewrites the book on a lot of things that we thought were true.”

Author Sonia Harmand added that the tools shed light on an unexpected and previously unknown period of hominin behavior, and could tell a lot about cognitive development in human ancestors that they couldn’t understand from fossils alone.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Discovery of world’s oldest tools prompt questions on ‘brainy’ human ancestors

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