In 2011, a team of archaeologists working in Kenya discovered stone tools that were subsequently dated to be 3.3 million-years-old. In addition to finding the oldest stone tools known to man, the age of the tools has changed our thinking about the world’s first toolmakers. Traditionally, the genus Homo (which includes modern humans) has been credited with the first use of stone tools. But the tools found in Kenya predate the oldest known Homo fossil by half a million years. The findings were reported this spring in Nature Magazine (May 20, 2015).
One of the oldest tools known to man.
Click here to view and interact with the stone tool in 3D.
Now, Reality Computing is allowing people to digitally view and interact with these stones tools. Dr. Louise Leakey, who was part of the team that discovered the tools, used Autodesk technology to create 3D digital replicas of artifacts for preservation, education, and further research. For several years, Leakey has been using Reality Computing to document fossil collections in a virtual laboratory called African Fossils, where the public and scholars alike can examine the objects via the web or download models of the fossils for 3D printing.
The stone tools were digitized (capture) and Autodesk Memento software was used to convert that captured reality data into high definition 3D meshes (compute). The resulting 3D models can be viewed on the AfricanFossils.org website and downloaded for 3D printing (create).
Check out these articles to read more about the stone tools discovery and the use of Reality Computing to digitally document and preserve these artifacts!
- National Geographic: Wrong Turn Leads to Discovery of Oldest Stone Tools
- BBC: Oldest stone tools pre-date earliest humans
- Autodesk’s In the Fold blog: Out of Africa and Into the Future: Oldest Tools on Earth Captured Using Cutting-edge Technology
- 3DPrint.com: Autodesk & Dr. Louise Leakey Share 3.3-Million-Year-Old Stone Tools with the World via 3D Printing