You probably think of new technologies as electronics you can carry in a pocket or wear on a wrist. But some of the most profound technological innovations in human evolution have been made out of stone. For most of the time that humans have been on Earth, they’ve chipped stone into useful shapes to make tools for all kinds of work.
In a study just published in Nature, we’ve dated a distinctive and complex method for making stone tools to a much earlier timeframe in China than had previously been accepted. Archeologists had thought that artifacts of this kind had been carried into China by groups migrating from Europe and Africa. But our new discovery, dated to between 170,000 and 80,000 years ago, suggests they could have been invented locally without input from elsewhere, or come from much earlier cultural transmission or human migration.