Tech UPTechnologyThey discover a new cradle of humanity

They discover a new cradle of humanity

The cradle of humanity extends to all of Africa. This is the conclusion of a study based on the oldest archaeological remains in North Africa, dated 1.9 and 2.4 million years ago. Those responsible for the study, scientists led by Mohamed Sahnouni, an archaeologist at the National Center for Research on Human Evolution (CENIEH), have published the work in the journal Science.

Until now, very little was known about the first occupations and their activities in the north of the continent. After two decades of studies, experts have concluded that ancient stone tool makers dispersed into unexamined parts of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. According to the researchers, the discoveries in Algeria and Saudi Arabia underscore how tool-making traditions allowed Stone Age groups of hominins to travel long distances and adapt to different environments.

The archaeological remains found in the sites of the Ain Hanech region (Algeria), the oldest currently known in North Africa, have given the key.

Hominids used simple cutting and mincing instruments to remove meat from animal carcasses in North Africa about 2.4 million years ago; that’s roughly 200,000 years after the first known appearance of such tools in East Africa. Early members of the human race continued to make these tools after moving from East Africa or created similar tools independently in East and North Africa , the scientists concluded.

Earlier excavations at two other Algerian sites, also conducted by Sahnouni’s team, uncovered stone tools and other evidence not dating back more than 1.8 million years.

No hominin fossils have been found at any of the North African locations, but the discovery of stone tools scattered among the remains of sacrificed animals at the Ain Boucherit site in Algeria adds to the evidence that the evolution of Homo did not it occurred only in East Africa. “Our ancestors ventured into all corners of Africa,” says Sahnouni.

The discoveries at Ain Boucherit “show that the North African and East African savanna corridors were connected and from the beginning, hominids started using stone tools and eating meat basically in both areas, ” says the archaeologist. Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo from the Complutense University of Madrid, who was not part of the research team.

Sahnouni’s group excavated stone tools and animal bones from two layers of sediment at Ain Boucherit. After initial finds in 2006 and 2008, fieldwork from 2009 to 2016 produced a total of 17 stone artifacts from an older and lower sediment layer and 236 similar samples from an upper sediment layer. The lower and upper layers also contained 296 and 277 fossil animal bones, respectively.

Identification of previously recorded Earth magnetic field reversals and estimates of the time elapsed since the sediments were buried provided ages of about 2.4 million years for the lower layer and approximately 1.9 million years for the top layer.

Ancestral hominins harvested the meat and bone marrow of animals of all sizes

The fossil bones found among the stone artifacts at Ain Boucherit come from animals that inhabit the savannah, such as elephants, horses, rhinos, antelopes, and crocodiles. Typical meat incisions appeared in 17 bones from the lower sediment layer and two bones from the upper layer. These marks were made primarily on the bones of the limbs, ribs, and skulls, suggesting activities such as skinning and removing the meat. Four other bones in the lower layer and seven in the upper layer showed hammering and crushing marks, probably as a result of the removal of the marrow.

“Future research will focus on searching for hominid fossils in nearby Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene sites, looking for makers of utensils and even older lithic tools,” concludes Sahnouni.

Reference: Eleanor ML Scerri et al, The expansion of later Acheulean hominins into the Arabian Peninsula, Scientific Reports (2018). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-018-35242-5

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