The results of the analyses reveal the tools in the collection are between 1.9 and 2.4 million years old. These artifacts are typical of the Oldowan stone technology known from 2.6-1.9 million-year-old sites in East Africa, although those from Ain Boucherit show subtle variations. Scientists found two distinct groups of artifacts from the site: one group dates back to about 1.9 million years ago, and the other group can be traced to 2.4 million years ago, according to Science News.
Instead, it suggests that either the first humans spread quickly to other parts of Africa from their East African homeland, or humans emerged simultaneously across a larger region of the continent.
Bones from all sorts of savanna-type animals were found at the ancient site, including mastodons, elephants, horses, rhinos, hippos, wild antelopes, pigs, hyenas, crocodiles.
'The effective use of sharp-edged knife-like cutting stone tools at Ain boucherit suggests that our ancestors were not mere scavengers, ' Dr. Isabel Caceres, the project taphonomist.
"Now that Ain Boucherit has yielded Oldowan archeology estimated to 2.4 million years ago, Northern Africa and the Sahara may be a repository of further archaeological materials", the study said.
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The artifacts of Ain Boucherit were manufactured of locally available limestone and flint and include faces worked into choppers, polyhedra and subspheroids, as well as sharp-edged cutting tools used to process animal carcasses. If what the researchers say is correct - and some experts not involved in the study have expressed doubts - the oldest in the collection are only 200,000 years younger than the oldest stone tools in the world.
Another theory is that early hominids made and used the tools in both East and North Africa, the so-called "multiple origin scenario".
The tools are too old to have been made by Homo sapiens - modern man - and no remains of other hominins have been found, so it's unclear which branch of the early human family was using the tools.
The latest findings could tell a similar story, if earlier remains in North Africa are not found.
Markings on the stones tools prove they were made and used with goal and precision.
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Discovery of animal bones with cut marks suggests that these early hominins exploited meat and marrow from animals of all sizes.
'Obviously, hominins that are contemporary to "Lucy" (dated ~ 3.2 Ma) probably were roaming across the Sahara, and their descendants may have been responsible to leave the archaeological signatures now discovered in Algeria, dated to ~2.4 MA, that are near contemporary with East Africa, ' says co-author Dr. Sileshi Semaw.
The tools closely resemble those called Oldowan, found until now mainly in East Africa.
"Future research will focus on searching for human fossils in the nearby Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene deposits, looking for the tool-makers and even older stone tools", said Sahnouni.
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