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early humanity

Archaeologists unexpectedly discover tools that throw off humanity's timeline by 50,000 years

Recently unearthed artifacts from the Stone Age could rewrite what we know about our early ancestors.

Three new studies published in the journal Science on Thursday reveal a series of surprising finds uncovered at an archaeological site in southern Kenya, known as Olorgesailie. Scientists have discovered Stone Age-era tools, processed pigments, and even evidence of long-distance trade dating back at least 300,000 years.

Previously uncovered tools from Olorgesailie include variations of hand-axes made from stone that was likely found in nearby areas, BBC reported. But the newly discovered tools are smaller and sharper, resembling spear heads — and they're made out of obsidian, which is not found anywhere in the region.

The discovery indicates that the people who lived in Olorgesailie may have been communicating with other humans who lived miles away. It's the earliest known possibility of different groups building relationships over long distances, and possibly trading tools and materials, NPR reported. Moreover, while the Middle Stone Age was thought to be about 280,000 years old, these tools suggest that it was well underway 50,000 years earlier than that, NPR added.

No human fossils have been discovered at Olorgesailie, which means it's possible that these tools were produced by some relative of Homo sapiens that then died out, The Seattle Times reported. Read more about the studies at NPR.