Last updated February 4, 2018 at 11:20 am
>Evidence mounts that our early ancestors were on the move 385,000 years ago.
Modern stone tools found in southern India are similar to the Middle Palaeolithic culture developed in Africa and Europe around the same time, suggesting our ancestors may have migrated out of Africa much earlier than we suspected.
Indian and French researchers say these early humans were using the stone tools 385,000 years ago
With skeletal remains in short supply, the evolution of hominids is often measured by the style of tools they left behind. When hominins first left Africa at least 1.7 million years ago, technology had developed the Acheulian hand axe.
But the Indian site at Attirampakkam shows a shift away from Acheulian technologies towards Middle Palaeolithic strategies such as the distinctive Levallois stone-knapping technique.
Middle Palaeolithic culture
The technique is named after the Parisian suburb of Levallois-Perret where a treasure trove of flint tools were found in the nineteenth-century. The technique involves fashioning weapons and tools by striking off flakes from the tool’s core.
The researchers says this representation of Middle Palaeolithic culture appears to have emerged at roughly the same time that it was developing in Africa and in Europe.
Researcher Shanti Pappu and colleagues from the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education studied more than 7,000 stone artefacts.
This transition to the Middle Palaeolithic holds the key to the study of the lives and times of hominins in Eurasia, especially the appearance and subsequent migrations of anatomically modern humans within and out of Africa.
The research was published in Nature.
Mislaya cave on Mount Carmel
It is the second research paper this week to suggest that modern humans were on the move out of Africa earlier than we have previously thought.
On Monday a paper was published about the discovery of the earliest modern human fossil ever found outside of Africa, in Mislaya cave on Mount Carmel in Israel.
The tests suggest the jawbone is between 175,000-200,000 years old – at least 50,000 years older than our previous estimates for when modern humans left Africa.