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Sharp stones found in India signal surprisingly early toolmaking advances

Homo sapiens didn’t introduce the technology after all, excavated artifacts suggest

1:00pm, January 31, 2018
stone tools

ROCK ON  Excavations at a site in India yielded these sharpened stones, among others. The find indicates that hominid populations there made big changes in toolmaking starting around 385,000 years ago, before Homo sapiens left Africa.

Stone-tool makers in what’s now India redesigned their products in a revolutionary way much earlier than previously thought.

Excavated stone artifacts document a gradual shift from larger, handheld cutting implements to smaller pieces of sharpened stone, known as Middle Paleolithic tools, by around 385,000 years ago, researchers say. That shift mirrors a similar change seen in tools from a variety of hominid populations in Africa, Asia and Europe between about 400,000 and 200,000 years ago, including African Homo sapiens and European Neandertals.

Unlike earlier populations, Middle Paleolithic toolmakers followed a set of steps to prepare chunks of rock, or cores, before pounding off sharp tools, or flakes. Until now, many researchers had assumed that the transition from tools such as hand axes, which emerged in Africa nearly 2 million years ago, to Middle Paleolithic implements happened in South Asia between 140,000 and 90,000 years ago. At that relatively

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