Among the finds from the famous Olduvai Gorge were found a jagged harpoon tip and other bone tools made 800 thousand years ago-most likely by representatives of Homo erectus. The publication of Naked Science reports this.
American anthropologists have studied an array of 52 bone finds made by Mary Leakey herself in 1960-1970 while working in the Olduvai Gorge. Samples dated to more than 800,000 years old, hundreds of thousands of years older than our species, appear to have belonged to the older Homo erectus. Meanwhile, five bone tools were found among them, including a chopper, a percussion “hammer” with an “anvil,” and even a jagged tip.
Note that the previous oldest such harpoon, found on the present-day Congo territory, is dated to the age of “only” 90 thousand years and is considered clear evidence of the unique instrumental skills of Homo sapiens. Now, these views will probably have to be reconsidered. An article by Michael Pante and colleagues is published in the Journal of Human Evolution.
It is worth noting that the new findings are not as unambiguous as the “Congolese harpoon.” You can see the notches on the tip that caused it to get stuck in the body of fish or game, but there are no ring-shaped depressions necessary for attaching fiber to the shaft. It is possible that the Erectus used this tool in some other way, but most likely, the production of the tip was never completed.
But even if this is the case, it is clear that the ancient masters specially selected suitable animal bones for tools. This means that the practice of making bone tools is much older than our species, although it did not reach such heights as later in the hands of sapiens. Recent findings show that other practices that were considered the prerogative of our species may have appeared long before it, including the use of fire to work stone and cooking food in hot water.