a guess

Alex Duncan (aduncan@mail.utexas.edu)
16 Nov 1995 14:10:58 GMT

In article <816462609snz@crowleyp.demon.co.uk> Paul Crowley,
Paul@crowleyp.demon.co.uk writes:

>So what's the large food resource previously unexploitable by
>hominoids which they got at by using stones as tools (and I don't
>mean nuts).
>Anyone want to guess?

Unlike bones, there aren't many constraints on the preservation of stone
tools. Olduwan & Achulean tools have been examined microscopically to
determine to what uses they were put. Wear consistent w/ processing both
vegetable and flesh has been found (digging, as well -- I think). In
addition, there are numerous sites approaching 2 Myr of age where there
is clear evidence from bone that stone tools were used in the removal of

There is (to the best of my knowledge) no early evidence for the use of
stone tools in the preparation of shell fish. There are no large caches
of stone tools associated w/ shell middens. Given the fact that both
stone tools and shell fish remains are very likely to be preserved in the
fossil record, the absence of such an association between tools and shell
in the Pliocene can be taken as evidence that early Homo had not yet
begun to utilize aquatic resources in any meaningful manner.

In other words, we don't have to guess. We have a pretty good idea what
stone tools were used (and weren't used) for.

Alex Duncan
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1086