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Archaeological journey reveals new information on chimpanzee stone tool technology

e journal article "Excavation of a Chimpanzee Stone Tool Site in the African Rainforest" that will appear in the May 24 edition of Science.

The results of the team's research indicates the possibility that some of the technologically simplest Oldowan sites could be re-interpreted as nut-cracking sites and that some artifacts from the more sophisticated Oldowan assemblages could be proof of hard-object feeding by hominids.

"We know that flaked stone tools were used 2.5 million years ago, but stone tools may have been used by hominids as long as 5 million years ago," said Panger, a coauthor on the article along with Mercader and Boesch. "If we look for assemblages of stone pieces like those we have found left behind by the chimpanzees, we can infer that those assemblages may relate to tool use, even if we don't have the tools."

Until now, archaeologists have focused on buried cultural remains left behind by our ancestors, but with the excavation of the chimpanzee stone tool site, scientists now know that humans are not the only animals whose behavior creates archaeological sites. This discovery opens up a new territory for archaeology, primatology, and paleoanthropology.

The data also highlights how much more can still be learned about our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, to understand humanity's uniqueness.

The project was primarily supported by the Max-Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology. Additional funding was received from The George Washington University, National Geographic Society, and the National Science Foundation.

A press conference to discuss the study will be held on Thursday, May 23, at 1 p.m., at The George Washington University (Marvin Center, Room 309, 800 21st Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.). Media wishing to attend the press conference should contact Bob Ludwig at 202-994-3566.


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Contact: Bob Ludwig
bludwig@gwu.edu
202-994-3566
George Washington University
23-May-2002


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