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Fly on the Wall 

August 16, 2010

Rewriting the Textbooks on Human Evolution

In the world of scientific publication, the covers of Nature and Science are highly coveted real estate. Last week’s cover of Nature featured a discovery by the Academy’s very own Zeray Alemseged, curator of anthropology. Over the past decade, Alemseged and an international team of scientists have explored the harsh Ethiopian desert for evidence left by our early human ancestors. Below, you’ll find a link to a Science in Action video that describes their most recent, and very exciting, discovery: the oldest evidence of tool use (and meat-eating) by human ancestors ever found, which shatters the previous record by almost one million years. It’s fascinating when you think about how the computer screen you’re reading this on is simply a continuation of the tool use habit that started 3.4 million years ago.

Click here to watch the three-minute video. If you prefer reading, here are links to the story in The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle.

What modern-day tools couldn’t you live without? Leave your comments below. And if you’re curious about the other traits that make humans and our relatives extreme, stop by the Extreme Mammals exhibit at the Academy. It closes on September 12, so be sure to visit before then.

Filed under: Research Departments — Greg Farrington @ 10:43 am


  1. I could not live without a writing tool: pencil, pen, pointed stick, brush. Second choice in our modern world (and always in my pocket): keys.

    Comment by John Argue — August 16, 2010 @ 2:25 pm

  2. I don’t know if this would be considered a tool, but I really appreciate indoor plumbing. I also like my toothbrush.

    Hmm, guess I’m a little obsessive about hygiene.

    Comment by fifi — August 16, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

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