Earliest modern human-like hand bone found in Tanzania

Modern humans are characterized by specialized hand morphology that is associated with advanced manipulative skills. Thus, there is important debate in paleoanthropology about the possible cause–effect relationship of this modern human-like (MHL) hand anatomy, its associated grips and the invention and use of stone tools by early hominins. Here we describe and analyse Olduvai Hominin (OH) 86, a manual proximal phalanx from the recently discovered >1.84-million-year-old (Ma) Philip Tobias Korongo (PTK) site at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania). OH 86 represents the earliest MHL hand bone in the fossil record, of a size and shape that differs not only from all australopiths, but also from the phalangeal bones of the penecontemporaneous and geographically proximate OH 7 partial hand skeleton (part of the Homo habilis holotype). The discovery of OH 86 suggests that a hominin with a more MHL postcranium co-existed with Paranthropus boisei and Homo habilis at Olduvai during Bed I times.



Basalt is a volcanic igneous rock with a crystaline structure. It forms when lava rapidly cools.

It can be hard to distinguish from sandstone, especially when weathered, as certain types are lighter brown in colour.

However, its crystaline structure and hardness mean that broken pieces retain sharper angular edges than sandstone and it has a more reflective look to it. The crystaline structure can often be seen on broken surfaces. Basalt is often quite black in colour but can be different shades of brown.

examples of basalt rock
examples of basalt rock

Ground Truthing the FossilFinder Beta Test

We arrived yesterday in Ileret and the first thing we just had to do was to see if we could relocate finds located by our beta testers from the images we collected last season.

One of the pictures we placed online during the beta was flagged a few times as containing numerous fossil bone fragments. Here is the picture from the preview:

An interesting image from the fossilfinder beta
An interesting image from the fossilfinder beta

GPS in hand we drove out to area 8. After a few moments of figuring out the best way to use the gps data we had we found those fossil bones on the surface:

fossil bones found during ground truthing
fossil bones found during ground truthing

This is an excellent result and means that our method is working!

ABOUT FossilFinder

Be a real part in ongoing research exploring fossil bearing landscapes in the Turkana Basin in northern Kenya. Here we ask you to help us document what is seen on surface images, including fossil fragments and other artifacts, to assist us in reconstructing past landscapes and environments. More eyes, more information, more discoveries.

Helping with the search and classification of fossils
The University of Bradford has teamed up with the Turkana Basin Institute to bring Fossil Finder to you. We need your help and keen eye to assist in the identification of surface geology including fossils and cultural remains from the fossil bearing deposits at Lake Turkana in northern Kenya. Everybody involved will be a meaningful and valuable member of the team.

Fossil Finder forms part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded Fragmented Heritage Project.