The Hand, the Brain and Tools

  • Göran Lundborg


Three to four million years ago, the early hominins had well-developed hands, but their brains were too rudimentary for tool making. Even if Ardi (Ardipithecus ramidus) and Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) were able to use stones and other objects to protect themselves or attack enemies, there is no indication that they were able to make tools by themselves. Tool making requires imagination and a capacity for planning and abstract thinking, and it has been proposed that the larger Homo habilis brain was required for tool making to become possible. However, new findings in Ethiopia’s Afar region indicate that tool making might have taken place about 800,000 years earlier than previously believed. A large brain may not be a prerequisite for tool making after all, as indicated by the advanced tools made by ‘the hobbit’, Homo floresiensis, as well as various types of tools used by chimpanzees, crows and rooks. Some researchers now suggest that man’s use of tools may have been a contributing factor to the development of the brain rather than vice versa and that the use of technical aids might have increased the chances of survival and thus had an essential influence on the development of humankind and societal structures.


Stone Tool Large Brain Abstract Thinking Tool Making Traffic Stop 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Göran Lundborg
    • 1
  1. 1.Hand Surgery Department of Clinical SciencesMalmö Lund University Skäne University HospitalMalmöSweden

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