From 1.8 million years ago, the first traces of human activity have been discovered
By: April Carson
The oldest known activity performed by humans was discovered in a cave in South Africa. The Wonderwerk Cave, located in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa, provided evidence that our ancestors were heating and crafting tools some 1.8 million years ago.
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Toronto have discovered traces of human activity in Wonderwerk, which means “miracle” in Afrikaans. The oldest evidence of human activity discovered so far is said to be there.
"We can now declare with confidence that our early human ancestors were creating basic Oldowan stone tools more than 1.8 million years ago, when the Wonderwerk Cave was still a dry cave," stated study lead author Professor Ron Shaar of Hebrew University.
Oldowan stone tools date back at least 2.6 million years and are the earliest type of tools known to mankind. A Oldowan tool, which was used for chopping, was made by striking one stone with another to produce chips.
Dr. Alan Shaar, a professor of geology at the University of Adelaide, asserted that Wonderwerk is distinguishable from other early sites where tool fragments have been discovered since it's a cave and not in the open air, making sample origins more difficult to identify and contamination probable.
The researchers were able to date the cave back one million years, when a shift from Oldowan tools to the first handaxes may be observed. The scientists also discovered that fire was intentionally employed some one million years ago while investigating deeper in the cave.
This is significant because, until recently, the earliest known fire usage was documented in open air locations where there was a possibility of them originating from wildfires. The remains of ancient fires in a cave — including burned bones, ash, and tools — provide clear indications about their purpose.
The scientists used paleomagnetism and burial dating to capture magnetic signals from the buried remains hidden within a sedimentary rock layer that was 2.5 meters thick. The presence of prehistoric clay particles on the cave floor indicates magnetization and may indicate the direction of the ancient planet's magnetic field. Knowing when the earth's magnetic field reversed allowed researchers to date the site.
Archaeologists recovered stone tools and bones from two extinct species of animals (a large type of elephant, Stegodon cf. S. gunteri; and an orangutan-like species called Gigantopithecus blacki), which they believe represent the earliest presence of humans in Southeast Asia to date.
Dr. Matt saved his findings about the kingdom of Sotha for a while until he was able to publish it in a respected journal. He then used another dating technique, focusing on isotopes within quartz particles in the sand that “have a built-in geological clock that starts ticking when they enter a cave,” to confirm their conclusions.
Finding out when the people who lived in Wonderwerk Cave were active could help us better comprehend human evolution in Africa and our early ancestors' way of life.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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