Tool Making

Certainty Style Key
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True   Likely   Speculative
Human Uniqueness Compared to "Great Apes": 
Relative Difference
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Humans are elaborate tool makers. All peoples fashion pounders, containers, cutters, levers, string (tying materials), and weapons. The drill is very widespread if not universal. Humans make permanent tools and make tools to make tools. The tools are often, if not always, made in stylized patterns that allow the tools of one people or group or individual to be readily distinguished from others. Tool making is of very great antiquity, present in almost all sites where there are archaeological remains of humans and present alongside the remains of earlier hominins. Evidence for the use of tools (cut marks on bones) dates to 2,500k BP. Dyed fiber for string dates to 30k BP. Tool making occurs in other species, including nonhuman primates, but usually on an as-needed basis and without stylization.


Timing of appearance of the difference in the Hominin Lineage as a defined date or a lineage separation event. The point in time associated with lineage separation events may change in the future as the scientific community agrees upon better time estimates. Lineage separation events are defined in 2017 as:

  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and old world monkeys was 25,000 - 30,000 thousand (25 - 30 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and chimpanzees was 6,000 - 8,000 thousand (6 - 8 million) years ago
  • the emergence of the genus Homo was 2,000 thousand (2 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and neanderthals was 500 thousand years ago
  • the common ancestor of modern humans was 100 - 300 thousand years ago

Probable Appearance: 
2,500 thousand years ago
Definite Appearance: 
2,000 thousand years ago


  1. First evidence of an extensive Acheulean large cutting tool accumulation in Europe from Porto Maior (Galicia, Spain), Méndez-Quintas, E., Santonja M., Pérez-González A., Duval M., Demuro M., and Arnold L. J. , 02/2018, Volume 8, Issue 1, p.3082, (2018)
  2. The manual pressures of stone tool behaviors and their implications for the evolution of the human hand, Williams-Hatala, Erin Marie, Hatala Kevin G., Gordon McKenzie, Key Alastair, Kasper Margaret, and Kivell Tracy L. , Journal of Human Evolution, 2018/06/01/, Volume 119, p.14 - 26, (2018)
  3. The evolution of cognitive mechanisms in response to cultural innovations, Lotem, Arnon, Halpern Joseph Y., Edelman Shimon, and Kolodny Oren , PNAS, 2017/07/25, Volume 114, Issue 30, p.7915 - 7922, (2017)
  4. An earlier origin for stone tool making: implications for cognitive evolution and the transition to Homo, Lewis, Jason E., and Harmand Sonia , Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 2016/06/13, Volume 371, Issue 1698, (2016)
  5. The origins of the Acheulean: past and present perspectives on a major transition in human evolution, de la Torre, Ignacio , Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 2016/06/13, Volume 371, Issue 1698, (2016)
  6. Travel fosters tool use in wild chimpanzees, Gruber, Thibaud, Zuberbühler Klaus, and Neumann Christof , eLife, 07/2016, Volume 5, p.e16371, (2016)
  7. 3.3-million-year-old stone tools from Lomekwi 3, West Turkana, Kenya., Harmand, Sonia, Lewis Jason E., Feibel Craig S., Lepre Christopher J., Prat Sandrine, Lenoble Arnaud, Boës Xavier, Quinn Rhonda L., Brenet Michel, Arroyo Adrian, et al. , Nature, 2015 May 21, Volume 521, Issue 7552, p.310-5, (2015)
  8. Chimpanzees prey on army ants at Seringbara, Nimba Mountains, Guinea: predation patterns and tool use characteristics., Koops, Kathelijne, Schöning Caspar, McGrew William C., and Matsuzawa Tetsuro , Am J Primatol, 2015 Mar, Volume 77, Issue 3, p.319-29, (2015)
  9. Cognitive demands of lower paleolithic toolmaking., Stout, Dietrich, Hecht Erin, Khreisheh Nada, Bradley Bruce, and Chaminade Thierry , PLoS One, 2015, Volume 10, Issue 4, p.e0121804, (2015)
  10. Early Upper Paleolithic chronology in the Levant: new ABOx-SC accelerator mass spectrometry results from the Mughr el-Hamamah Site, Jordan., Stutz, Aaron Jonas, Shea John J., Rech Jason A., Pigati Jeffrey S., Wilson Jim, Belmaker Miriam, Albert Rosa Maria, Arpin Trina, Cabanes Dan, Clark Jamie L., et al. , J Hum Evol, 2015 Aug, Volume 85, p.157-73, (2015)
  11. Estimating thumb-index finger precision grip and manipulation potential in extant and fossil primates., Feix, Thomas, Kivell Tracy L., Pouydebat Emmanuelle, and Dollar Aaron M. , J R Soc Interface, 2015 May 6, Volume 12, Issue 106, (2015)
  12. Insights into early lithic technologies from ethnography., Hayden, Brian , Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 2015 Nov 19, Volume 370, Issue 1682, (2015)
  13. The evolution of the hominin thumb and the influence exerted by the non-dominant hand during stone tool production., Key, Alastair J. M., and Dunmore Christopher J. , J Hum Evol, 2015 Jan, Volume 78, p.60-9, (2015)
  14. Age and date for early arrival of the Acheulian in Europe (Barranc de la Boella, la Canonja, Spain)., Vallverdú, Josep, Saladié Palmira, Rosas Antonio, Huguet Rosa, Cáceres Isabel, Mosquera Marina, García-Tabernero Antonio, Estalrrich Almudena, Lozano-Fernández Iván, Pineda-Alcalá Antonio, et al. , PLoS One, 2014, Volume 9, Issue 7, p.e103634, (2014)
  15. Old stones’ song: Use-wear experiments and analysis of the Oldowan quartz and quartzite assemblage from Kanjera South (Kenya), Lemorini, C., Plummer T., Braun D., Crittenden A., Ditchfield P., Bishop L., Hertel F., Oliver J., Marlowe F., Schoeninger M., et al. , Journal of Human Evolution, 07/2014, Volume 72, p.10-25, (2014)