WEDNESDAY, Aug. 31, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Hand axes, picks and other stone tools that are 1.8 million years old suggest that ancient humans were using advanced tool-making methods at least 300,000 years earlier than previously thought, a new study says.
The tools found in East Africa are believed to have been made by Homo erectus, tall and slender early humans who appeared about 2 million years ago and disappeared about 70,000 years ago.
The tools are called Acheulian tools and "represent a great technological leap," study co-author and geologist Dennis Kent said in a news release from the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
He and his colleagues analyzed the sediments at the site in West Turkana, Kenya, where the tools were previously excavated, and dated the site to 1.76 million years ago.
The oldest Acheulian tools previously identified were found in Konso, Ethiopia (1.4 million years old) and India (1.5 to 1 million years old).
The study appears in the Sept. 1 issue of the journal Nature.
The World Museum of Man has more about prehistoric humans and their tools and weapons.