When We First Made Tools

  • Published: 27 March 2019
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    The tools made by our human ancestors may not seem like much when you compare them to the screen you’re looking at right now but their creation represents a pivotal moment in the origin of technology and in the evolution of our lineage.

    Thanks to Fabrizio De Rossi, Julio Lacerda and everyone else at Studio 252mya for their excellent hominin illustrations. You can find more of their work here: 252mya.com/

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: cepnet.mobi/user/pbsdigitalstudios

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    De Heinzelin, J., Clark, J. D., White, T., Hart, W., Renne, P., WoldeGabriel, G., ... & Vrba, E. (1999). Environment and behavior of 2.5-million-year-old Bouri hominids. Science, 284(5414), 625-629.
    Ferraro, J. V., Plummer, T. W., Pobiner, B. L., Oliver, J. S., Bishop, L. C., Braun, D. R., ... & Hertel, F. (2013). Earliest archaeological evidence of persistent hominin carnivory. PloS one, 8(4), e62174.
    Gabunia, L., Antón, S. C., Lordkipanidze, D., Vekua, A., Justus, A., & Swisher III, C. C. (2001). Dmanisi and dispersal. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews: Issues, News, and Reviews, 10(5), 158-170.
    Harmand, S., Lewis, J. E., Feibel, C. S., Lepre, C. J., Prat, S., Lenoble, A., ... & Taylor, N. (2015). 3.3-million-year-old stone tools from Lomekwi 3, West Turkana, Kenya. Nature, 521(7552), 310.
    Kappelman, J. (2018). An early hominin arrival in Asia. Nature, 480.
    Scott, G. R., & Gibert, L. (2009). The oldest hand-axes in Europe. Nature, 461(7260), 82.
    Stout, D., Toth, N., Schick, K., & Chaminade, T. (2008). Neural correlates of Early Stone Age toolmaking: technology, language and cognition in human evolution. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 363(1499), 1939-1949.
    Tuffreau, A., Lamotte, A., & Marcy, J. L. (1997). Land-use and site function in Acheulean complexes of the Somme Valley. World Archaeology, 29(2), 225-241.
    Williams-Hatala, E. M., Hatala, K. G., Gordon, M., Key, A., Kasper, M., & Kivell, T. L. (2018). The manual pressures of stone tool behaviors and their implications for the evolution of the human hand. Journal of human evolution, 119, 14-26.
    Zhu, Z., Dennell, R., Huang, W., Wu, Y., Qiu, S., Yang, S., ... & Ouyang, T. (2018). Hominin occupation of the Chinese Loess Plateau since about 2.1 million years ago. Nature, 559(7715), 608.
  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 906

  • Ya Boy Beene
    Ya Boy Beene  3 days back

    Only 90s kids remember

    • Ryan Amero
      Ryan Amero  3 days back

      I have collected many stone tools of my property in maine u.s .anyone i try and show or explain saying they look so much like homo ancestor tools .i wish i could prove my collection comes from homo sapiens.anyone who wants to help me prove this please help with contact info .all i know is i keep finding lots of knife and spear heads tipe definitely sharpe.

      • Chillicothe
        Chillicothe  4 days back

        Lmao. Evolution? Like pokemon?!

        • David Richardson
          David Richardson  5 days back

          Ummm. I see you scientist aren't that smart after all. Idk if you know this but the body runs on glucose. Every single cell. And the brain uses the most of that glucose. We evolved eating sugar and it's clear. If we evolved eating meat we could be omnivores by now. You're talking 1 to 2 million years of evolution and all you're talking about is meat for energy. Lol if that was all they ate they would have never survived all this time.

          • Rick Vis
            Rick Vis  3 days back

            Glucose is fuel not a building material. The dry matter of the brain is 60% fat and the rest is protein. The brains started growing because of the consumption of bone marrow which is mostly fat and a small amount of protein.

        • JadrianMc
          JadrianMc  6 days back

          Ancestors: Smh kids these days relies too much on technology
          Also ancestors:

          • Books are my Social Life

            Can y'all make a video on the aquatic ape theory? Maybe talk about how plausible/implausible it is?

            • rent a shill
              rent a shill  1 weeks back

              its not a theory
              its a hypothesis without any evidence

          • Sebastian sr
            Sebastian sr  2 weeks back

            I think another important point was when we started hunting big weights, some hominids maybe adapted to eat rotten meat and we learned to dry meat. For the first time we are not always moving in search of food.
            Being in the same place for a while, maybe help discover agriculture. the video inspired this theory, thanks from Uruguay.

            • John Lamb
              John Lamb  2 weeks back

              I can flint knapp /Make stone tools!!!!!!!!!!

              • Be Ren
                Be Ren  3 weeks back

                Hands were made for holding on in trees in grabbing fruit. Look at all the non-humans using hands/feet.

                • SGG
                  SGG  3 weeks back



                  • tracey adkins
                    tracey adkins  4 weeks back

                    Ahhh. The first nail in our collective coffin. Tools. The gateway drug.

                    • H K
                      H K  1 months back

                      Fortunately, the monolith appeared when needed

                      • amistry605
                        amistry605  1 months back

                        All the dislikes are by vegans

                        • Joel M
                          Joel M  2 months back

                          But my pastor said the earth is 5000 years old🤪🤪🤪🤪

                          • bokura kyo mo ikiteru
                            bokura kyo mo ikiteru  2 months back

                            awesome... and one day Smithsonian will enforce this telling you these tools were used to build pyramid. XD

                            • adventureike
                              adventureike  2 months back

                              Primitive Technology has entered the chat.

                              Primitive Technology: ". "

                              • Scott Campbell
                                Scott Campbell  2 months back

                                Great looking lady. Well spoken and bright. Makes these videos even better.

                                • Paul pothecary
                                  Paul pothecary  2 months back

                                  Who were the first hominids to cook their food and what difference did it make?

                                  • Papageno
                                    Papageno  2 months back

                                    "When We First Made Art", please.

                                    • Dayron Gomez
                                      Dayron Gomez  2 months back

                                      Bru this vid popped up in my recommended will I was doing my wh homework about the paliolithic age

                                      • The FPV Life
                                        The FPV Life  2 months back

                                        Absurd episode because many animals use tools so how can we determine when a hominid first used tools.

                                        • Dicky Liu
                                          Dicky Liu  2 months back

                                          100000 years in the future they dig up an Iphone and thinks the same about it as we think about the rocks of our ancestors. Those rocks were high tech back then. It might be the Rock 11 Pro Max!

                                          • King Kash
                                            King Kash  2 months back

                                            It’s funny to think that if our ancestors didn’t use stone tools, us Homo sapiens wouldn’t have existed

                                            • Terncote
                                              Terncote  2 months back

                                              We need to remember the importance of fire in this stone age enlightenment. Not only did it provide safety and allow early humans to extend our range, cooked food returns more carbohydrate calories and is easier to chew. This means the jaw can become smaller and skull can grow larger.

                                              • phiddle phart
                                                phiddle phart  3 months back

                                                The first cutting too was found by a barefoot hominid nearly slicing his foot off while traversing a rocky area. 💡He said Hey! If it can cut my foot like this then it can......,
                                                A cutting implement is born

                                                • itsasin1969
                                                  itsasin1969  3 months back

                                                  I have an Oldowan. It's been confirmed.
                                                  Picked it up off the ground in Africa.

                                                  • WOTHAN66666
                                                    WOTHAN66666  3 months back

                                                    Chance says that finding that, it was common back then. So Tools must be older.

                                                    • Nick Feness
                                                      Nick Feness  3 months back

                                                      The fact we can tell whether people smashed two rocks together with their hands or smashed one into the ground millions of years ago blows my mind

                                                      • KKuurus
                                                        KKuurus  3 months back

                                                        Or they may have been natural cracking of the rocks. Oh and dating of stone is done by looking at what is in or around them.

                                                        • Ronald Kennedy
                                                          Ronald Kennedy  3 months back

                                                          Maybe redefine tool:permanently modify some part of the environment to suit their needs.um...wasp nest,beaver damn,ant hill?I'm not arguing that ants use tools.only that building an anthill does fit that definition.just sayin...

                                                          • Rex90Pawprint
                                                            Rex90Pawprint  3 months back

                                                            This is something I actually find really interesting as earlier this year, I had to do a school presentation on this.

                                                            • Maxim Macasinag
                                                              Maxim Macasinag  3 months back

                                                              Primitive Thanos

                                                              *I use the tools to make the tools

                                                              • Maxim Macasinag
                                                                Maxim Macasinag  3 months back

                                                                Primitive Thanos

                                                                *I use the tools to make the tools

                                                                • David Bordayo
                                                                  David Bordayo  3 months back

                                                                  The first tool used was the First hand Flesh-Light ! 😂

                                                                  • Richard Deese
                                                                    Richard Deese  3 months back

                                                                    Thanks! Believe me, I'm one of those who is quite impressed by our ancestors' abilities to make & use tools! Such things as obsidian flake knives take *_extreme_* patience & deep skills, which would have to have been passed on from parent to child. That's almost certainly one of the very first such skills (along with making fire & things like stone spear points & arrow heads) that became the basis for the apprenticeship & guilds of later *_eons_*. ;) Particularly in the case of glass-like stones, they may have even traded for them between near tribes; another basis of later societies. All these things signaled the Rise of the Planet of the Hominins! 𝓡𝓲𝓴𝓴𝓲 𝓣𝓲𝓴𝓴𝓲.

                                                                    • Akani Godi
                                                                      Akani Godi  3 months back

                                                                      What kind of map is the one shown in 04:00? Is it showing median elevation or something else

                                                                      • Call Me Perseverer1
                                                                        Call Me Perseverer1  3 months back

                                                                        Human: makes stone tools
                                                                        Advancement Made!: Stone Age
                                                                        Many years later
                                                                        Human: Plays Minecraft,
                                                                        Also Human: When have I learned this before?

                                                                        • Robert Griffin
                                                                          Robert Griffin  3 months back

                                                                          It was the Iodine found in fish that was necessary for our greater brain growth .

                                                                          • Adam Sanders
                                                                            Adam Sanders  3 months back

                                                                            Damn. We've been looking for tools in oldowan places.

                                                                            • John Dee
                                                                              John Dee  3 months back

                                                                              Man shapes rock.
                                                                              Rock shapes man.

                                                                              • Stan TheObserver
                                                                                Stan TheObserver  4 months back

                                                                                Actually,the first weapon and the first jump in mankind evolution...was the ability to make a fist. How we killed off the more ape like hominids.

                                                                                • Faybrian Hernandez
                                                                                  Faybrian Hernandez  4 months back


                                                                                  • Hillary Clintub
                                                                                    Hillary Clintub  4 months back

                                                                                    Excellent! The invention of weapons like this was an important step in the evolution of humans. It made us more competitive with other animals with better biological weapons such as fangs, horns and claws. Without our weapons, we're extremely vulnerable to better natural predators.

                                                                                    • David Howells
                                                                                      David Howells  4 months back

                                                                                      The time when stone tools were cutting edge technology.

                                                                                      • Quentin ALEXANDRE
                                                                                        Quentin ALEXANDRE  4 months back

                                                                                        What is the name of the music used as background, so calming and soothing!

                                                                                        • Hailey Yang
                                                                                          Hailey Yang  4 months back

                                                                                          how do you know they’re not just rocks 😂

                                                                                          • BioChemoPhysio Science
                                                                                            BioChemoPhysio Science  4 months back

                                                                                            Why does brain evolution follow the Leannean system, while everything else follows the Darwinian system?

                                                                                            • jose juarez
                                                                                              jose juarez  4 months back

                                                                                              We wuz the ancient Chinese n shhhhhiiiieeeettttt