added by archaeologs The more technical name for the Old Stone Age, a division of prehistory covering the time from the first use of stone tools by humans, c 2.5 million years ago, to the retreat of the glacial ice in the northern hemisphere c 10,000-8500 BC. It began in the Pliocene epoch and was followed by the Mesolithic. It is the Old World equivalent, although with a much greater extension back in time, of the paleo-Indian or Early Lithic stage of New World development. The Paleolithic was characterized by the making of chipped or flaked stone tools and weapons and by a hunting and food-gathering way of life. It is usually divided into Lower, Middle, and Upper (or Late) Paleolithic - mainly based on artifact typology. The subdivisions are characterized this way: Lower Palaeolithic, c 2.5 million - 200,000 BC, the earliest forms of humans (Australopithecus and Homo erectus), and the predominance of core tools of pebble tool, handax, and chopper type; Middle Palaeolithic, c 150,000-40,000 BC, the era of the Neanderthal and the predominance of flake-tool industries (e.g. Mousterian) over most of Eurasia; and Upper Palaeolithic (starting perhaps as early as 38,000 BC-c 10,000 BC), with Homo sapiens sapiens, blade-and-burin industries, and the development of cave art in western Europe. During this stage, man colonized the New World and Australia. The main Palaeolithic cultures of Europe were, in chronological order: 1. Pre-Abbevillian, 2. Abbevillian, 3. Clactonian, 4. Acheulian, 5. Levalloisian, 6. Mousterian, 7. Aurignacian, 8. Solutrean, and 9. Magdalenian. The term was introduced in 1865 by John Lubbock in "Prehistoric Times". The Palaeolithic was originally defined by the use of chipped stone tools but later an economic criterion was added and the practice of hunting and gathering is now regarded as a defining characteristic.