Apes used stone tools to kill animals 3.4 mn years ago

In an extraordinary find that will rewrite the history of mankind, archaeologists discovered the marks of sharp stone blades on animals bones cast aside 3.4 million years ago. The marks were discovered on a fossilised bone unearthed in the Afar region of Ethiopia. The bones were butchered by a squat ape-like ancestor called Australopithecus afarensis, reports the Daily Mail.

The best known member of the species is 'Lucy' - who was found in Ethiopia's Awash Valley in 1974 and was named after English rock-band The Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Lucy was around 3ft 6inches and walked upright, says the journal Nature.

The tools were used to carve slices of meat off the bones and smash them open to reach the nutritious marrow inside. The finding has stunned scientists who say the first use of tools is one of the pivotal moments of humanity's development.

Zeresenay Alemseged of the California Academy of Sciences, who found the bones in Africa, said: "The discovery dramatically shifts the known time-frame of a game-changing behaviour for our ancestors." "Tool-use fundamentally altered the way our early ancestors interacted with nature, allowing them to eat new types of food and exploit new territories.

"It also led to tool-making -- a critical step in our evolutionary path that eventually enabled such advanced technologies as airplanes, MRI machines and iPhones," Alemseged added. Until now, the oldest known tool was around 2.4 million years old.

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