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The First Toolmakers

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World's oldest stone tools challenge ideas about first toolmakers

Date: May 20, 2015

 

Source:The Earth Institute at Columbia University

 

Summary:

Scientists working in the desert of northwestern Kenya have found stone tools dating back 3.3 million years, long before the advent of modern humans, and by far the oldest such artifacts yet discovered. The tools push the known date of such tools back by 700,000 years; they also may challenge the notion that our own most direct ancestors were the first to bang two rocks together to create a new technology.

 

Scientists working in the desert badlands of northwestern Kenya have found stone tools dating back 3.3 million years, long before the advent of modern humans, and by far the oldest such artifacts yet discovered. The tools, whose makers may or may not have been some sort of human ancestor, push the known date of such tools back by 700,000 years; they also may challenge the notion that our own most direct ancestors were the first to bang two rocks together to create a new technology.

 

Excerpts:

The researchers do not know who made these oldest of tools. But earlier finds suggest a possible answer: The skull of a 3.3-million-year-old hominin, Kenyanthropus platytops, was found in 1999 about a kilometer from the tool site. A K. platyops tooth and a bone from a skull were discovered a few hundred meters away, and an as-yet unidentified tooth has been found about 100 meters away

 

The precise family tree of modern humans is contentious, and so far, no one knows exactly how K. platyops relates to other hominin species. Kenyanthropus predates the earliest known Homo species by a half a million years. This species could have made the tools; or, the toolmaker could have been some other species from the same era, such as Australopithecus afarensis, or an as-yet undiscovered early type of Homo.

 

Lepre said a layer of volcanic ash below the tool site set a "floor" on the site's age: It matched ash elsewhere that had been dated to about 3.3 million years ago, based on the ratio of argon isotopes in the material. To more sharply define the time period of the tools, Lepre and co-author and Lamont-Doherty colleague Dennis Kent examined magnetic minerals beneath, around and above the spots where the tools were found.

 

So, barring errors in the method of dating, this demonstrates a window of time to pinpoint a phenomenon toolmaking per archeological reckoning. This predates the Pre-Ancient Temples in Turkey by over 3.25 million years.

 

Which method of temporal dating is off (if any), and more importantly: How do we know?

Edited by dream_weaver
3.25 million was 3.25 billion typo.

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Hey txs for this info, it's really interesting.  DNA analysis will probably shatter our previous conclusions about human evolution.  AND - analysis of the conclusions we made given incomplete sense data - compared to what we learn from the DNA should spark a new human area of inquiry.  That is, what are the prejudices in scientific investigation that led us to false conclusions?  I think we will find a human tendency that has raised its ugly head in the history of western philosophy too.

 

Historically, scientists and philosophers have been too quick to fall into speculation and skepticism.  The historical foundation of religious mysticism has produced a false desire to know it all right now.  That desire is not part of reality - the truth of human acquisition of knowledge is hierarchical - a truth recognized by Ms. Rand. 

 

With an understanding of Ms. Rand's explanation of concept formation, both scientists and philosophers have a new way to accurately form their ideas.  What is true for certain, given your current knowledge?  Go no further accept as a recognized tool that is only an exercise in speculation.  That way, as you discover more, these days usually by increased sense perception due to technology, at each step in the increased knowledge, you add to, rather than, contradict previous knowledge.  This is the cognitive break that, when properly adhered to, provides the reasoned basis for inductive reasoning.  Then, given the principle arrived at, you then use deduction to validate future related experiences.

 

It's so simple, it's so easy, it doesn't require language that is not understandable to basically educated people.  It doesn't require decades of analysis of mathematics, logic, and language - elevating them to a metaphysical level.  It doesn't require a PhD in philosophy.  Understanding of the simple truth only requires a basic education and volition.

Edited by jacassidy2

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Historically, scientists and philosophers have been too quick to fall into speculation and skepticism.  The historical foundation of religious mysticism has produced a false desire to know it all right now.  That desire is not part of reality - the truth of human acquisition of knowledge is hierarchical - a truth recognized by Ms. Rand.

The false desire to know it all right now, is certainly not compatible with how the faculty of knowledge works, as identified by Miss Rand, but arguably it is a part of reality, as readily observed from the rationalism and skepticism encountered.

 

The Pre-Ancient Temples in Turkey was started in 2010. The actual referenced link in the OP of the thread is no longer available directly via the link, although a later link, World's oldest temple built to worship the dog star, is still active. It would have been nice if The First Toolmakers article had referenced the 2.6 million year old tools this discovery predated.

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