a201-11f-24-LifestylesOfOldowanHominins - Introduction to...

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Introduction to Biological Anthropology: Notes 24 Lifestyles of the toolmaking Oldowan hominins Copyright Bruce Owen 2011 - The earliest known stone tools appeared in East Africa around 3.4 mya - evidence: the cutmarked bone from Dikka - the earliest tools themselves found so far are from Bouri - same general area and time as A. gahri , which was found near animal bones with cutmarks, but not with the tools themselves - around 2.5 mya - the cutmarks from Dikka were probably made with tools similar to those at Bouri - which in turn are basically the same as the “Oldowan tool industry” from Olduvai Gorge - rounded cobbles that have had flakes broken off - sometimes with “flake scars” from removing just a few flakes, sometimes up to 30 or more - leaving the cobbles with sharp edges useful for cutting or pounding - these are called - “cores” when people think of them mostly as the leftover from making flakes - or “core tools” when we think of them as being tools themselves - but the thin, sharp flakes were probably more useful as cutting tools - also “spheroids”, now understood to be “hammerstones” used to bang off the flakes - what is the big deal with broken rocks? - hominins don’t have sharp canines or strong, sharp claws - imagine yourself hungry in the forest, surrounded by game - how are you going to make a weapon or trap without at least a pocket knife to cut and shape some branches? - or say you did catch and kill a deer. How will you get into it to eat the meat? - a sharp stone flake might be the difference between survival and starvation - But which hominins made the stone tools? - there were several species of hominins around at 3.4 mya, and more by 2.5 mya - recall that A. garhi was found with animal bones with cutmarks from stone tools - but that is not conclusive; why would the butchered animal bone and the butcher’s own bones be found together? - maybe a predator or scavenger was attracted to A. garhi ’s butchery site and killed the hominin while it was butchering its catch - or maybe the dead A. garhi was actually they prey of the true toolmaker, destined to be cut up itself for food itself - other possible toolmakers include - A. afarensis Kenyanthropus platyops - A. africanus , an otherwise typical australopithecine - recall that it isn’t likely that we have fossils of the very first of any species – any species probably appeared earlier than the first fossils of it A. garhi
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Intro to Biological Anthro F 2011 / Owen: Lifestyles of toolmaking hominins p. 2 - a hypothetical descendant of Kenyanthropus platyops - one (or several) of the paranthropines? - paleoanthropologists used to argue a lot about which species was the first toolmaker - but the picture has now gotten so complicated that there is little point in worrying about it until some surprising find provides more clarity - I agree with Boyd and Silk that we can just to refer to “Oldowan toolmakers” or “Oldowan hominins” and not fret about which species they were
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This note was uploaded on 03/02/2012 for the course ANTHRO 201.3 taught by Professor Owen during the Fall '11 term at Sonoma.

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a201-11f-24-LifestylesOfOldowanHominins - Introduction to...

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