The tools closely resemble those called Oldowan, found until now mainly in East Africa.
“East Africa is widely considered to be the birthplace of stone tool use by our ancient hominid ancestors – the earliest examples of which date as far back as about 2.6 million years ago,” said the report in Science.
“The new findings make Ain Boucherit the oldest site in northern Africa with in situ evidence of hominin meat use with associated stone tools and they suggest that other similarly early sites could be found outside of the Eastern Africa Rift.” One hypothesis is that early ancestors of modern-day humans quickly carried stone tools with them out of East Africa and into other regions of the continent.
Another is a “Multiple origin scenario,” in which early hominids made and used tools in both East and North Africa.
More in the Sahara? The findings suggest that the ancestors of modern people were present in north Africa at least 600,000 years earlier than scientists thought.
Until now, the oldest known tools from northern Africa were 1.8 million years old and were found at a nearby site.
“Based on the potential of Ain Boucherit and the adjacent sedimentary basins, we suggest that hominin fossils and Oldowan artifacts as old as those documented in East Africa could be discovered in North Africa as well.”