Some animals and birds make use of tools. There are some good examples among the birds. For example, the song thrush commonly feeds on snails which it opens by flying up with the shell in its bill and dropping the snail on convenient stone. The bird often uses the same stone on a number of occasions so that it may become littered with broken shells.
The stone is often referred to as a thrush’s anvil. The members of the shrike family often make use of thorns on which they impale their prey. But man more than any other animal has taken advantage of his large brain capacity to increase his power to hunt, kill, build his homes, and so on.
It is man’s ability to hold things in his hand with has enabled him to make such use of tools, where other animals have had to rely on their strength and agility, their teeth and their claws. Man’s first tools and weapons were stones which he had picked up. He chose stones that had been worn and sharpened by the weather into shapes that could be used as clubs or for cutting and scraping. As you might imagine the right shaped stones were not always easy to find, so that in time man learned to fashion primitive tools to a constant design that suited his purpose.
Many of the early men were carnivorous, that is, they fed largely on meat. This meant that a lot of the stones that have been positively identified as prehistoric implements were designed to kill animals, and then to scrape the flesh off the bones of the victim. Tools of prehistoric man could be made of bone, tooth, or more frequently stone, and in particular, flint. Flint was chosen because it breaks to give a flake with a very sharp, hard edge that could be used as, say, an axe. At first, these primitive weapons would be held directly in the hand. Eventually, however, man learned how to attach these axe-heads to a wooden shaft, and the power of the weapon was increased.
As he became more experience in making stone tools, the tools became more and more advanced in their design so that soon he was making blades, scrapers, and even arrowheads. Arrowheads were a great advance because they meant that for the first time man could kill his prey without putting himself to the risk of approaching what could be a very dangerous animal. Of course, these weapons could also be used to wound and kill other men.