Chimp tools give new insight into early man

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A study using archaeological methods to examine primitive tools used by chimpanzees could lead to a re-evaluation of similar items used millions of years ago by early humans.

A study using archaeological methods to examine primitive tools used by chimpanzees could lead to a re-evaluation of similar items used millions of years ago by early humans.

The first such analysis of stone hammers and tree-stump "anvils" used by chimpanzees in rainforests of West Africa suggestssome of the first tools invented by man might have been used for the same purpose – to crack open nuts.

A team of American and German scientists applied the techniques used in archaeological digs at a nut-cracking site used by several generations of chimpanzees to study the way that their tool-making had developed.

The scientists found that the stone flakes that had broken off when the chimpanzees banged them against tree stumps looked remarkably similar to flakes found in the Olduvai Gorge of East Africa, home to early humans more than two million years ago.

Julio Mercader and Melissa Panger of George Washington University in Washington DC, working with Christophe Boesch of the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, say the study proves that archaeology can be used to study the development of chimpanzee "culture".

The scientists, whose study is published in the journal Science, suggest the first cutting tools, which were made by early humans deliberately striking off flakes of stone, might have evolved from similar nut-cracking behaviour.

Comments