Stone Age Animals (KS2): Everything You Need To Know

A large model of a stone age animal with very long tusks is standing amongst some trees.

Image © Shirley810, under a Creative Commons license.

Stone Age Animals are one of the most exciting topics that your Year 3, Year 4 or Year 5 child will learn about at primary school as part of KS2.

The Stone Age started 2.5 million years ago and ended around 5,000 years ago. In this time there were many different animals which lived alongside humans.

Your kids will learn all about these different animals at school, as part of the KS2 history curriculum, and it is likely to be a topic that really sparks their interest. But, before you break out in a sweat at the thought of being asked questions about bisons and mastodons, keep calm and read our quick and easy guide full of Stone Age facts to help with homework and homeschooling. You'll be an expert in no time!

What Animals Lived In Britain In The Stone Age?

Climate change during the Ice Ages meant that in the Stone Age Britain and Europe were home to many animals which you won't find in Britain these days. During the Ice Ages, Europe was very cold and the likes of the woolly mammoth, mastodon, reindeer and the woolly rhinoceros walked the blankets of snow while brown bears lived in the caves.

There were also warm periods between the Ice Ages, so many animals which you'd expect to see in warmer climates today (like elephants, hippos, lions, rhinos and hyenas) could be found in Europe.

The end of the last Ice Age coincided with the start of the Stone Age in Britain (around 12,000 years ago) and, at this point, the climate became similar to how it is today. Foxes, birds squirrels, wolves and bears were among the animals that roamed the area. Humans hunted for fish and pigs, dogs and cats became domesticated around the Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age). Cows and sheep provided meat, milk, leather and bones. Horses and chickens were also domesticated around 6,000 years ago.

But how do we know this? Well, evidence of the existence of these animals has been found in cave art. While these cave paintings have not been found in Britain specifically, some have been found in France. These paintings, that were created around 14,000 years ago and were found at Lascaux, show that people living in the Stone Age recognised and painted animals as well as humans. Despite cave paintings never being found in Britain, carvings in caves have been discovered depicting Stone Age animals like birds, bison, stags, horses and giant bulls.

The skeleton of a stone age animal with very long tusks stands in the middle of a room in a museum.
Image © Efraimstochter, under a Creative Commons license.

What Animals Did Humans Hunt During The Stone Age?

Hunter gatherers during the Stone Age had to find or hunt all of their food in order to survive. Early humans used sharpened sticks. Early Stone Age people then used spears tipped with flint or bone, and bows and arrows, to hunt. Humans also gathered fish using harpoons or nets.

People in the Stone Age had to hunt whatever animals they could find. This included deer, hares, rhinos, hyenas and mammoths. Unlike today's culture, hunters used and ate every part of the animal - even the brain, blood and feet.

Stone Age people didn't just eat meat - they also dug up roots, gathered nuts and foraged fruit. They then cut up their food with sharpened stones and cooked it on a fire.

The head of a model of a large stone age animal emerging from greenery, it has a long trunk and two white tusks.
Image © mrganso, under a Creative Commons license.

Did Early Humans Have Pets?

Yes. Graves containing animal bones are thought to date as far back as 100,000 years ago, though the first emotional attachment to a pet is shown through a grave in Germany (which is around 14,000 years old) containing a man, woman and puppy. Research has also shown that people were keeping cats as pets around 10,000 years ago - predating the time that Egyptians were thought to have pet cats around 4,000 years ago. All of this evidence points to the conclusion that people did keep pets in the Stone Age.

Were There Dinosaurs In The Stone Age?

Non-avian dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus and Triceratops became extinct at least 65 million years ago, so well before the Stone Age.

However, in an evolutionary sense you could say that birds are a type of dinosaur because they have descended from the the common ancestor of all dinosaurs - a great fact for your child to tell their friends in the playground!

The skeleton of a blue whale stone age animal hanging in the Natural History Museum.
Image © just-pics, under a Creative Commons license.

Fun Stone Age Animals Activities

Animal loving kids will love bringing Stone Age beasts to life.

Why don't you get arty by drawing a mammoth then use cotton wool or other textured materials to make it appear woolly?

You could even try and create your own cave paintings. Just use your usual watercolour paints with water and mix will a little old-fashioned dirt from outside to give it that cave-like look, before trying to draw your child's favourite Stone Age animal.

If your child prefers writing to drawing, why don't you ask them to write a diary entry as if they were living through the Stone Age? Ask them to detail the different encounters they may have had with animals throughout the day and let their imagination run as wild as the animals do!



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