The Evolution of Tools and the Hominids that Used Them

Degree Type

Creative Component

Semester of Graduation

Spring 2020


Biomedical Sciences

First Major Professor

M. Heather West Greenlee

Second Major Professor

Michael Lyons


Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical Sciences


The creation of tools was a major step that changed the path of hominid evolution forever and began our technological prowess. Tool use likely began approximately 2.6 million years ago with the creation of Oldowan tools by Homo habilis. Since the first stone tool was created until today, hominids have made remarkable progress in increasing the sophistication and complexity of tools, to the point where almost everything we do in our daily lives is facilitated by some type of tool. Hominids have been the innovators and creators of an extraordinary amount of tools, making changes to improve every tool, but tools have also changed hominids as well. As hominids have evolved significant changes have been made to their anatomy with evidence suggesting influence by tool use. Perhaps the most significant of these changes is a fairly consistent increase in cranial vault volume that is commonly associated with higher intelligence. As tool use improved, it became more common to have better access to higher nutrients, allowing the development of a larger brain. The extent to which humans rely on tool use is unmatched in other species, but every major animal group has been shown to exhibit tool use. The simple act of striking a rock to form a sharp edge completely changed the path of hominid evolution to the point where essentially every aspect of our daily lives is influenced by tool use.

Copyright Owner

Bracken, Eric

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