Stone tools found in the northern region of Africa is threatening the long-held theory that eastern Africa is the cradle of civilization. The discovery was made at the Ain Boucherit site, about 320 kilometers east of Algerian capital Algiers.
"The evidence from Algeria changes the earlier view that East Africa was the cradle of humankind. Actually, the whole of Africa was the cradle of humankind," Mohamed Sahnouni, who led the expedition, stated in a journal, explaining that the discovery "shows that our ancestors ventured into all corners of Africa, not just East Africa."
A collection of 250 tools believed to be some 2.4 million years old have been unearthed in Algeria. The tools are similar to Oldowan, which were found in the eastern region of the African continent.
"Now that Ain Boucherit has yielded Oldowan archaeology estimated to 2.4 million years ago, northern Africa and the Sahara may be a repository of further archaeological materials," the Science journal published.
"We suggest that hominin fossils and Oldowan artifacts as old as those documented in East Africa could be discovered in North Africa as well."
The find, which also included 296 animal bones, places humans in the region about 600,000 years earlier than previously deduced. East Africa currently retains its title by a meager 200,000 years, but scientists predict this will change.
The excavation project was conducted over a 25-year period and included researchers from Algeria, France, Spain and Australia.
"The effective use of sharp-edged tools at Ain Boucherit suggests that our ancestors were not mere scavengers," Isabel Caceres, from archaeological organization IPHES, said.
Though human remains are yet to be found, the tools and animal bones are indicative of human activity in the form of butchery.
"It is not clear at this moment whether they hunted, but the evidence clearly shows that they were successfully competing with carnivores and enjoyed first access to animal carcasses," Caceres added. The animal bones reportedly came from the ancestors of crocodiles, elephants and hippopotamuses.
Earlier this year, stone tools dated back 2.12 million years were found in China.