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A new archaeological finding in Zambia showed that the ancestors of modern humans were very capable engineers, Agence France-Presse reported.
Archaeologists recently discovered the oldest known wooden structure near Zambia’s Kalambo Falls, and is estimated to have been created around 476,000 years ago.
In their study, researchers wrote that they initially found the structure four years ago above a 770-foot waterfall on the banks of Zambia’s Kalambo River.
The prehistoric structure was made from the logs of a large-fruited willow tree and possibly serves as a platform for various functions, such as storing firewood, tools and food. It could have also been the foundation of a dwelling, researchers said.
The site also had a trove of numerous wooden tools dating from that period, but no skeletal remains of its inhabitants.
The finding not only sets a new record for the oldest wooden structure in the world, but also sheds some new light on the prehistoric human ancestors in those areas.
Fossil records have shown that the extinct Homo heidelbergensis inhabited the region. The ancient hominins lived between 700,000 and 200,000 years ago and are known for their large brows, and having had a bigger braincase and a flatter face than earlier human species.
Lead author Larry Barham believes that H. heidelbergensis were the creators of this structure, which suggests that these species were way more intelligent than scientists had previously given them credit for.
He said the creation of such a structure implies a high level of skill, planning, and tool usage. This also suggests that early humans may have stayed in one location for extended periods, challenging the notion that they were solely nomadic.
“They used their intelligence, imagination and skills to create something they’d never seen before, something that had never previously existed,” he added.