The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered, and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory. It extends from the earliest known use of stone tools, probably by Hominins such as Australopithecines, 2.6 million years ago, to the end of the Pleistocene around 12,000 BC. The Paleolithic era is followed by the Mesolithic. The date of the Paleolithic - Mesolithic boundary may vary by locality as much as several thousand years.
During the Paleolithic, humans grouped together in small societies such as bands, and subsisted by gathering plants and hunting or scavenging wild animals. The Paleolithic is characterized by the use of knapped stone tools, although at the time humans also used wood and bone tools.