The discovery of stone tools for 2.4 million years and clogged bones in Algeria indicates that our distant relatives of hominins had spread to northern parts of Africa much earlier than archaeologists had supposed. The find adds confidence in the reappearance of the assumption that the ancient hominin lived and evolved – outside of the proposed Garden of Eden in East Africa.
This unusual discovery can be traced back to 2006, when Mohamed Sakhnuni, lead author of a new study and archaeologist at the National Research Center for Human Evolution in Spain, discovered some intriguing artifacts at the site called Ain Boucherite in northeastern Algeria, near the town of El-Eulma . These objects were embedded in the sediment layer exposed by a deep ravine.
Two years later, Sahnuni found another layer in this place, one even older. From 2009 to 2016, his team worked carefully at Ain Boucherit, revealing stone of stone tools and slaughtered animal remains.
Using numerous methods of acquaintance, Sahnuni and his colleagues from two stratigraphic layers, called AB-Up and AB-Lw, amounted to 1.9 million and 2.4 million years, respectively. The items in these two layers are now the oldest known artifacts in North Africa, the previous oldest of which were stone tools, 1.8 million years old, found in the near 1990s at the nearby site called Ain Hanech.
The tools found in the AB-Lw layer, 2.4 million years old, are 600,000 years older than those found in Ain Hanech and 200,000 years younger than the oldest tools found in East Africa ( and in the world, for that matter) The Oldian ’s Gon tools, Ethiopia, date back 2.6 million years ago. Scientists believed that early hominins evolved in this area of Africa, spreading to the north about a million years later. But this conclusion now offers a much earlier date of settlement on the continent.
To present these dates in perspective, our view Homo sapiens, appeared 300,000 years ago. Thus, the unknown hominins who built these instruments grew up around East and North Africa 2.3 million years before modern people took the stage. New discoveries at Ain Boucherit, the details of which were published today in Science, show that North Africa was not just a place where human ancestors lived and developed tools – this was the place where they developed.
Indeed, this new study is fueled by a new narrative in which people evolved throughout the African continent as a whole, and not just in East Africa in accordance with ordinary thinking. Moreover, this should stimulate heightened archaeological interest in North Africa.
To date, Sahnouni layers have used three different methods: magnetostratigraphy, electronic spin dating (ESR), and biochronological analysis of animal bones mixed with instruments.
Eleonora Scerri, an archaeologist at Oxford University who was not involved with the new study, said that the researchers did an excellent job with dating, stating that it was “incredibly difficult” to pinpoint the ancient sites of hominins.
"The authors combined several dating methods to obtain an age estimate for early classes [AB-Lw layer] about 2.4 million years ago, ”Skerri told Gizmodo. They did this by first restoring the sequence of geomagnetic reversals preserved in the village, which are well known in the world. Then the researchers found a chronological place … of occlusal layers in this sequence through a combination of electrospin resonance (EPR) dating of minerals in sediments and identification of minerals [animals]".
Scerri said that these methods hold dates well, but are associated with some uncertainties and assumptions.
Jean-Jacques Hublin, a researcher from the Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology. Max Planck, who also did not participate in the new study, was not enthusiastic about the dating methods used by Sahnuni and his colleagues.
“Emergency requirements require extraordinary evidence, and some may have some reservations about the estimated ages for the Ain Boucherit and Ain Khaneh sites,” said Hublin Gismodo. "Paleomagnetism is not a dating method that helps hold dates obtained by other methods and can be subject to various interpretations."
Fair These are truly unusual requirements, so independent efforts to ensure that these layers and artifacts support the findings of the study.
"If this is confirmed, the results show that hominins occupied North Africa almost a million years earlier than previously thought," said Skirri. "These dates will also make Oldowan in North Africa only slightly younger than in East Africa."
According to Oldowan, Scerri refers to the world's oldest known stone tool industry. This technology unreservedly changed the evolutionary history of hominins, creating the prerequisites for even more complex stone tools, such as the subsequent Aheyle culture.
It is noteworthy that the stone tools found in Ain Boucherit were strikingly similar to the tools of Oldowan East Africa. In Oldowan lithography there are stone cores with flakes removed from the surface, which leads to sharp edges. In addition to these tools, researchers have discovered heavy scaly globular rocks, the purpose of which is not entirely clear.
“The archeology of Ain Boucherit, which is technologically similar to Gona Oldowan, shows that our ancestors risked all parts of Africa, not just East Africa,” said Sakhnuni in a statement. "Data from Algeria has changed [our] earlier look at east africa [as] being the cradle of humanity. Actually, all of Africa was the cradle of humanity. ”
To explain the presence of Oldowan technology in North Africa, researchers consider two scenarios: either the technology was developed by hominins in East Africa about 2.6 million years ago, who quickly spread themselves and their newfangled technologies to the north or the hominins living in North Africa invented the Oldovan technology regardless of other groups.
From the point of view of the animal bones found, archaeologists have discovered traces of mastodons, elephants, horses, rhinos, hippos, wild antelopes, pigs, hyenas and crocodiles – oh my! It is clear that these ancient hominins were not picky eaters. It is important to note that many of these animals are associated with the open savanna environment and readily accessible objects of constant fresh water. This probably describes the landscape inhabited by these deer hominins at the time.
An analysis of the fossil bones revealed characteristic features of a slaughterhouse, such as V-shaped notches involved in gutting and deflexion, and shock notches indicating bone marrow extraction. Ain Boucherit is now the oldest site in North Africa with tangible archaeological evidence of the use of meat in combination with the use of stone tools.
“The effective use of sharp, sharp knife tools for cutting stone at Ain Boucherit suggests that our ancestors were not just scavengers,” said Isabel Caceres, an archaeologist at the University of Rovira and Virgili in Spain, and co-author of the study. statement. "It is not clear at this time [is] regardless of whether they are hunting or not, the evidence clearly showed that they successfully competed with carnivorous animals for meat and obtained first access to animal carcasses. ”
Unfortunately, no hominin bones were found at the site, so researchers can only give reasonable guesses about the exact species responsible for the tools. It could be Homo habilisearly types of people at the time or even late australopithecines, The genus hominin associated with the famous petrified lucy.
Scerri said that this document emphasizes the importance of North Africa, as well as the Sahara, for archaeologists seeking to learn more about the origin of man. The newspaper, she said, also raises new questions about the earlier evolution of hominins, such as the origin and distribution of Oldowan technology.
“The article cannot answer these questions, but it changes the narration, raising them, actually indicating that there may be alternatives to the dominant model of East African origin,” she said to Gismodo.
"According to the authors, the fossils of 3.3 million years Australopithecus bahrelghazali have already been found in the Saharan region of Chad. Thus, the results obtained by Sahnnuni and his colleagues add to the growing amount of evidence that North Africa and the Sahara can produce game changes of discoveries. ”
People have not evolved from a single ancestral population.
In the 1980s, scientists learned that all people living today are descended from a woman who received the name “Mitochondrial Eve”, who lived in Africa from 150,000 to 200,000 years ago.
These results are strikingly consistent with Scerri’s own research. In July July, in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Scerri and her colleagues said that Homo sapiens was of pan-African origin and that our species did not evolve from a single ancestral population.
“In our model, human ancestors were already scattered throughout Africa,” she explained. “Different populations came into contact with each other at different times and in different places, and these dynamic models of mixing and separation ultimately lead to the emergence of behavioral and biological characteristics of modern human populations. The findings of Sakhnuni and his colleagues correspond to this, albeit rather weakly, since they preceded the early blinkings of the divergence of our species by about 1.8 million years. ”
Moving forward, Skury hopes that scientists will make more concerted efforts to study the supposedly "less important" regions of Africa in order to obtain more accurate and real – A picture of the evolution of hominins over time.
"Exploring the Sahara and other areas located in less bright corners of the human origin map is likely to bring important results that in no way diminish incredibly important and valuable finds from eastern and southern Africa."[Science]