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The Americas notably did not develop a widespread behavior of smelting Bronze or Iron after the Stone Age period, although the technology existed.
Stone tool manufacture continued even after the Stone Age ended in a given area.
Stone Age artifacts include tools used by modern humans and by their predecessor species in the genus Homo, and possibly by the earlier partly contemporaneous genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus.
Bone tools were used during this period as well but are rarely preserved in the archaeological record.
In Europe and North America, millstones were in use until well into the 20th century, and still are in many parts of the world.
The terms "Stone Age", "Bronze Age", and "Iron Age" were never meant to suggest that advancement and time periods in prehistory are only measured by the type of tool material, rather than, for example, social organization, food sources exploited, adaptation to climate, adoption of agriculture, cooking, settlement and religion.
The closest relative among the other living primates, the genus Pan, represents a branch that continued on in the deep forest, where the primates evolved.
The rift served as a conduit for movement into southern Africa and also north down the Nile into North Africa and through the continuation of the rift in the Levant to the vast grasslands of Asia.
Starting in the grasslands of the rift, Homo erectus, the predecessor of modern humans, found an ecological niche as a tool-maker and developed a dependence on it, becoming a "tool equipped savanna dweller".
In addition to lithic analysis, the field prehistorian utilizes a wide range of techniques derived from multiple fields.
The work of the archaeologist in determining the paleocontext and relative sequence of the layers is supplemented by the efforts of the geologic specialist in identifying layers of rock over geologic time, of the paleontological specialist in identifying bones and animals, of the palynologist in discovering and identifying plant species, of the physicist and chemist in laboratories determining dates by the carbon-14, potassium-argon and other methods.
The Chalcolithic by convention is the initial period of the Bronze Age. The transition out of the Stone Age occurred between 6000 BCE and 2500 BCE for much of humanity living in North Africa and Eurasia.
The first evidence of human metallurgy dates to between the 5th and 6th millennium BCE in the archaeological sites of Majdanpek, Yarmovac, and Pločnik in modern-day Serbia (a copper axe from 5500 BCE belonging to the Vinca culture), though not conventionally considered part of the Chalcolithic or "Copper Age", this provides the earliest known example of copper metallurgy. Ötzi the Iceman, a mummy from about 3300 BCE carried with him a copper axe and a flint knife.