A new study has identified the oldest known tools to have been used by Homo erectus. Until now, archaeologists had figured that the oldest tools used by man’s ancestor were somewhere in the ballpark of 1.4 million to 1.6 million years old. But now geologists have discovered that a set of hand axes, picks, and other Acheulean tools uncovered in Kenya actually dates back 1.76 million years, the New York Times reports.
To determine that, geologists used a paleomagnetic technique to date the mudstone around the site. “I was taken aback when I realized that the geological data indicated it was the oldest Acheulean site in the world,” the study’s lead author says. Though no human fossils turned up in the tools’ immediate vicinity, a skull was found across a nearby lake at the same sediment level, suggesting Homo erectus built the tools. (Read more prehistoric stories.)