Over 3 million years ago our distant australopithecine ancestors made tools more complex than anything modern day apes can make, the oldest evidence for stone tools dates back 3.4 My old cut marks on ancient animal bones showing signs of having been butchered with stone tools, the next oldest finds are the Lomekwi tool industry, which I’ve gone over before. The Lomekwi tool industry is much more complex than what even chimps can make, but much more primitive than even the Oldowan tools made by early *Homo*. Whoever the makers of the Lomekwi tools were, they deliberately singled out large rocks, at the expense of smaller ones, and their tools are heavier than any stone age tools discovered since then, the largest one weighing 15 kilos.
This is a video by the small and underrated channel North 02 who goes over the common headline that chimps have entered the stone age, he points out that even fish use rocks as tools, and to say that they’ve only recently entered the stone age is ludicrous, we’ve known that chimps have been making tools for at the very least thousands of years (that in and of itself may be due to chimps observing ancient humans making and using stone tools, rather than any innovation among themselves).
I wrote this synopsis of the video both to flesh it out a little bit (specifically the archaeologically focused segment) and provide an explanation of what the video’s about for people uninterested in watching Youtube videos.
Abstract: Complex projectiles—propulsion via mechanical aid—are considered an important technological innovation, with possible relevance for the successful Out-of-Africa dispersal of our species. Conclusive evidence for the beginning of this technology, however, is lacking from the early Late Pleistocene (ca. 130 to 70 thousand years ago; ka). Given the extremely limited applicability of relatively robust methods for validating stone-tipped projectile use, such as through fracture propagation velocity, converging lines of circumstantial evidence remain the best way to examine early complex projectiles. We assess here suggestions for an early Late Pleistocene origin of complex projectiles in Africa. Results from both previous and present independent approaches suggest a trajectory in which complex projectiles were likely adopted during the early Late Pleistocene in eastern Africa. At Aduma (Middle Awash, Ethiopia), morphometric, hafting, and impact damage patterns in several lithic point assemblages suggest a shift from simple spear technologies (thrusting and/or hand-cast) to complex projectiles. Broadly dated to 80–100 ka, lithic points from later phases of the Aduma succession represent a particularly strong candidate for projectile armatures most comparable to ethnographically known spearthrower darts, lending support for previous suggestions and warranting further investigations.
Notes: This is interesting, very interesting, because it pushes back the date of the invention of the atlatl back to the Middle Paleolithic, long before modern humans spread out of Africa, and also long before the earliest evidence for the atlatl in the archaeological record, which AFAIK is from Aurignacian Europe, it’s also telling because Native Americans lacked the atlatl until the advent of the Archaic period, so either the ancestors of the Native Americans lost the atlatl sometime prior to the peopling of the Americas or the atlatl wasn’t as common as previously believed. The Tasmanians also lacked the spearthrower or atlatl, despite ultimately coming from the same population that left Africa as the rest of us did, while the Australians *did* possess the spearthrower, called the *woomera* there, although it was of recent (Holocene) derivation.