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VITA ANTIQUA                                                                                      ISSN 2522-9419 (Online), 2519-4542 (Print)
Center for Paleoethnological Research

Alona Karmaza¹
Morphology of Early Hominid Hand in Context of Tool making
¹ Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

DOI: 10.37098/VA-2023-14-162-171


This article will focus on morphology of hand early hominids. We already have not many hands fossils, but this evidences can help us to interpret early hominid`s potential of tools making. We will talk about Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus sediba, Paranthropus robustus and Homo habilis.

Early hominid research in Africa began in earnest in the second part of the 20th century, decades after the discovery of the Taung Child by Raymond Dart in 1924. After Dart’s momentous discovery finally gained widespread acceptance, scientists at last came to understand that human ancestry began in Africa rather than the Far East as was previously believed. Unfortunately there are very few carpal bones dating to this formative period of paleoanthropological research. Real interest in the development and implications of hominid hand morphology emerged only after the discovery of stone stools at Lomekwi 3 by Sonia Harmand in the 2010s. The discovery of 3 million year old tools fundamentally altered our understanding of the timeline of human cultural evolution. In addition to raising a number of pressing questions about the origins and definition of the genus Homo, Lomekwi 3 also radically reworked our understanding of the kinds of hand morphologies required for the production of stone tools. This brings us to the central question of this paper, namely, «which morphological features in early hominid hands are potentially indicative of tool making?».

When we are talking about Lomekwi its very important to understand that the stone tools found at the site have not yet been associated with any paleoanthropological remains. Nonetheless, the 3.3 million year old date of the Lomekwi tools calls into question whether or not tool making can be said to be a trait unique to the genus Homo. We will see that by interpreting the carpal bones of the various early hominids present 3.3. million years ago we are forced not only to abandon outmoded assumptions about uniquely Homo traits, but to also reconsider the cognitive and mechanical capabilities of previously underestimated early hominid groups. Our goal is to determine which groups of early hominids may have been capable of producing the Oldowan and Lomekwi toolkits on the basis of functional morphology alone.

Because we don’t find hominid remains holding tools, we need to make educated guesses about who made them. We can look at hand morphology, and its development, to attribute early tools to the particular hominids who may have made them.

Key words: archaeology, paleoanthropology, evolution, Australopithecus, Paranthropus, Early hominids.

Language: English


Cite as:

Karmaza, A.О. 2023. Morphology of early hominid hand in context of tool making. VITA ANTIQUA, 14. Culture Heritage and the War : challenges and solutions.


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