Archaeologists in Africa and South America have uncovered some amazing ancient stone tools they say were not made by humans. The archaeologists believe the tools are as old as the Egyptian pyramids and that whoever made them bore similar characteristics to humans, including their hand prints.
The antique tools bore hand prints that very much resembled those of humans, leading scientists to believe they were developed by chimpanzees, man’s closest relative.
The tools created were crude. The use of rocks and heavy pieces of stone by primates hardly results in eye popping pieces of art. However, their archaeological relevance is astounding.
Through the use of these rocks as a way to make life easier for the primates, scientists believe the primates are now in their stone age.
A group of primate archaeologists led by Christophe Boesch, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany set out to the dense rainforests of the Ivory Coast to seek answers on the primates’ archaeology.
While digging in the forest floor down to depths of about three feet, the scientists discovered the tools they said dated back to about 4300 years. Some of the tools, they reported, were worked on to a level of precision once only thought possible by humans.
The results led the researchers to conclude that chimpanzees have been in the stone age for over 4300 years.
Primates have been known to use tools for various purposes over the years. Oxford University primate archaeologist Michael Haslam said, "Orang-utans, bonobos and gorillas have been seen using plant tools but never stone tools.”
According to Haslam, stone tools were rarely used because of their unavailability. He explained, "Plants are ubiquitous in primate habitats but stones are not."
Through being readily available, skills performed with the help of plants were easily passed down from generation to generation of primates. The same could not be done for stone tools.
It is unclear whether chimps will have an opportunity to advance their stone age technology. Haslam said, “We are shrinking their populations dramatically through habitat destruction and hunting. Smaller populations cannot spread and sustain complex technologies as well as larger groups."
What the research draws to our attention is that these chimps may be able to make more advanced stone tools, but they may never get to the technology age due to our encroachment into their forests.