The Paleolithic age, also known as the Stone Age, was the period of human prehistory when primitive stone tools were discovered. The Paleolithic age covers approximately 99 percent of human existence, from when the first hominids, more than likely the australopithecines, first started using stone tools more than 2.6 million years ago, and ended with the end of the Pleistocene Era, around 10,000 BCE.
During the Paleolithic age, human beings existed in small bands of hunter-gathers, using wood, bone, and stone tools. It was during the Paleolithic age that hominids evolved from the primitive Homo habilis, who used only simple stone tools, into Homo sapiens, who developed the earliest art works and invented religion, evidenced by burial customs.
The Paleolithic age witnessed two climate epochs: the Pliocene and the Pleistocene. It was during the Pliocene that the continents drifted to near their modern positions. The Pleistocene, by contrast, was marked by four major glacial events, popularly known as Ice Ages.
Because human beings had not invented writing, much of what scientists know about human life during the Paleolithic comes from archaeology and comparison to modern hunter-gatherer cultures that still exist in various corners of the globe. Hunter-gatherers enjoy considerably more leisure time than humans do in industrial societies, as their basic needs are easily met.