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Ancient stone tools in Kenya offer new clues to human origins

A joint team of Chinese and Kenyan paleontologists and archaeologists has unearthed hundreds of stone tools in Kenya that date back hundreds of thousands of years, offering new insights into the origins of modern humans.

The tools, which were found near Lake Bogoria in Baringo County, were made using a sophisticated technique known as the Levallois method, which was developed more than 200,000 years ago.

“This period is a crucial stage for the origin of modern humans,” said Zhao Qingpo, a leading member of the team from China’s Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology. “The tools that we have discovered may have been made by modern humans at the very early stage.” He added.

The discovery is significant because it provides new evidence to support the theory that Africa is the cradle of humanity. Human fossils dating back 6 million years have been found in Kenya, but the exact location of where early modern humans originated is still a matter of debate.

The China-Kenya joint team has been cooperating on excavations in Baringo County since 2017. During their latest excavation, which began in early October, they unearthed hundreds of stone tools, as well as fossils of animals that coexisted with the humans who made the tools.

“We have found fossils of ancient pigs, antelopes and elephants,” said Job Kibii, director of research and science at the Turkana Basin Institute and the China-Kenya joint project director.

Kibii said that the team hopes to be able to date the tools more precisely, which could provide clues about who the humans were, how mentally developed they were, and what challenges they faced.

“Each type of stone tool had a specific use,” he said. “For example, some were used for harvesting tubers, while others were used for slaughtering animals. This can tell us about the mode of subsistence at the time.” Kibii added.

The team is also collecting soil samples that will be sent to China for dating. There is preliminary evidence that people were living in what is now Baringo County 500,000 years ago.

The discovery of the stone tools is a major breakthrough for archaeologists and anthropologists studying human origins. It provides new evidence to support the theory that Africa is the cradle of humanity, and it sheds light on the lives of early modern humans.

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