Here’s another one from the “this is really going to piss off PETA” files. Seem humans have been gnoshing on the butchered flesh of innocent sentient beings far longer than was previously thought. Hooray!
From this story on CBS News.
Humans Carved Meat Far Earlier Than Thought.
_Every time we slice into a steak or cut into some chicken, we’re taking part in a technological heritage that stretches back at least 3.4 million years.
Back then, the only cutting implements around were sharp pieces of stone and there were no true humans around to wield them. But there were still butchers- one of our ancestral species, Australopithecus afarensis was already using stone tools to flay meat off bones, leaving small nicks with every cut. Such marked bones have been found and they push back the earliest estimates of tool use among human ancestors by 800,000 years. In January 2009, a team led by Shannon McPherron from the Max Planck Institute found bones which had clearly been worked over with stone tools. The bones, uncovered in Dikika, Ethiopia, include the rib of a cow-sized animal and the thighbone of a goat-sized one. Both bore cuts and scratches inflicted by sharp objects and dents produced by crushing hammers._
By peering at the marks under powerful microscopes and analysing their chemical composition, McPherron confirmed that they were made by stone rather than teeth, and they were created before the bones fossilised. These were not accidental scratches, but the remnants of strikes used to carve off the meat and break into the marrow.
Based on the surrounding rock layers, which have been very accurately dated, McPherron calculated that the bones are at least 3.39 million years old. These relics push back both the history of butchery and the use of stone tools by human ancestors, by almost a million years. Until now, the oldest evidence for the manufacture of stone tools comes from finds in Gona, Ethiopia that are just 2.6 million years old, while the oldest cut-marked bones were found in nearby Bouri and dated to around 2.5 million years ago.