They don't look like much, but scores of crude stone tools discovered in Kenya are special: Scientists say they date back 3.3 million years, which makes them the oldest such artifacts ever found by 700,000 years.
The finding suggests that members of the genus Homo — the biological grouping that includes our own species, Homo sapiens — were not the first to shape stones for their own purposes. "When we first discovered the tools, we had to start re-examining who the potential makers were, and why they might have started making such tools at this new time," Jason Lewis, a paleoanthropologist at Stony Brook University's Turkana Basin Institute, said in a podcast provided by the journal Nature.
Italian researchers may have discovered the oldest nativity scene ever found, predating Christian nativity art by about three millennia, according to the travel and exploration website Seeker.
The rock painting depicts a newborn between parents, a star in the east, and two animals.
The discovery, detailed in this week's issue of Nature, was made in 2011 during an excavation conducted by the West Turkana Archaeological Project in Kenya.
The project's directors are Lewis and Sonia Harmand, the lead author of the Nature study (and Lewis' wife).
Excavations by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem at Zippori have revealed frescoes with human and animal images from about 1,800 years ago – a rare find for that time in the land of Israel. the leaders of the Jewish town of Zippori made a dramatic decision not to join the revolt against Rome.