Homo Erectus Tools: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Wendy McDougal

Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.

Homo erectus is an extinct species of early human. Fossil evidence shows that they made advanced stone tools, as well as other items. What did they use, and how did it help them? Read on to learn more.

Tools in Our Daily Lives

Can you think of some tools that might be used around your house? A hammer, drill and screwdriver are some commonly used items. People who build homes and other buildings use a wide variety of different tools. In fact, our world relies so much on tools that it is hard to imagine life without them.

People use many tools.

So, where did tools come from? Stone tools were made millions of years ago by early humans called Homo erectus. Now, of course we are not talking about power saws or electrical drills. But the devices they invented would change the way people lived forever.

Life in the Pleistocene Era

The people known as Homo erectus were some of the very first humans to roam the Earth, living in the Pleistocene era. This puts them on Earth around 2 million years to about 150,000 years ago. Though they had smaller brains than us, they were inventive and innovative. Creating tools would make their lives easier, and would change life for future humans.

Let's imagine a day in the life of Homo erectus. Just like us, they had basic needs to fulfill every day. These included a shelter in which to live, food, and some form of clothing. These early humans could certainly meet many of these needs with their own hands and feet. However, just like in modern life, many tasks would be much easier with the use of effective tools.

For example, can you imagine cutting down a tree with a dull rock? Think about when you are camping: is it easier to cook food with or without a fire? It is likely that some members of the Homo erectus species had new ideas about how to accomplish tasks. These ideas began the creation of better tools.

Which Tools Did Homo Erectus Use?

You might say that Homo erectus created advanced stone tool technology. Basic tools made of stone already existed, but Homo erectus improved them. They found better stones, and sharpened them for hand axes, which were cutting tools. Their tool-making skills included creating items that could be compared to modern hammers and knives. In addition, Homo erectus likely made ropes by twisting bark and grass.

Examples of hand axes
hand axes

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