One common way of cementing the grand scale of a fantasy or science-fiction world is to include a wide variety of different sapient races. As is often the case in speculative fiction, "race" in this trope actually means species, or sub-species — we aren't talking ethnicity or skin color here. And racing is right out.
When you have 15 or more, not counting hybrids, you have Loads and Loads. Note that this trope can't be an Informed Attribute; the creator needs to give each race at least a little description, screentime, or artwork.
In science-fiction, Loads and Loads of intelligent species may be a way to distinguish planets from one another and display the diversity one might expect to see traveling across the galaxy or universe. For example, one world might be inhabited by a group of reptilian aliens while another could be full of Starfish Aliens or even Eldritch Abominations. Fantasy works might be more inclined to incorporate Petting Zoo People into their diverse world, but the fantasy and science-fiction uses of this trope tend to be fairly similar overall.
Single gender races are not uncommon in works with Loads and Loads of Races. Some of the races included in such works may be Always Chaotic Evil or serve as Evil Counterpart Races to another group known for being more heroic. Having many different races tends to involve Hats, though highly detailed Multicultural Alien Planets can be an effective way of mixing things up.
The differences between each race also need not be incredibly large, and they might not even be entirely separate species. So long as the creater of a work makes a point of distinguising between them in more than just culture, all of the races could be similar-looking Human Aliens.
Sometimes a race is less a biological species, and more of a mutation or modification (such as werewolves, zombies, cyborgs, vampires). Some works treat these as mere variants of whatever they used to be, but in other works they are treated, for all intents and purposes, as separate species.
May be a sign of a Fantasy Kitchen Sink. Contrast with Five Races and Fantasy Axis of Evil, in which a fantasy work uses a limited, common selection of heroic and "evil" races respectively.
When a game lets players choose their character or team from a great number of playable races, it has a Massive Race Selection instead. Note that card games do not involve "playing" a race, so their examples are listed here instead.
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Tower of God: Besides normal humans there are the Red Witches and Silver-Haired Dwarves, the Da'an tribe, which are a docile tribe of giants with eight eyeballs around their head, at least 3 kinds of Horned Humanoids, 3 kinds of Winged Humanoids, 3 kinds of Lizard Folk, several races with eggheads and varying numbers of eyes, shape shifters, shrimp people, all kinds of Amazing Technicolour Population, giant slimes, dog people and many more.
Dragon Ball: Frieza's army is made up of members of countless different intergalactic races, the Other World is populated by the deceased members of even more races, and then there's all the different races introduced in GT. Finally there's the races the series focuses on the most: humans, Saiyans, Namekians, Frieza's unnamed race, Majins, Kais, Ogres, and the humanoid animals that live on Earth alongside humans.
Duel Masters follows suit after its "parent" game, Magic. This is an unquestionably long list, and still growing. A few (like Starnoid and Pegasus) are exclusive to only one creature.
Magic: The Gathering is very much this. Aside from Humans there are: Amphin, Angels, Aven, Bird-Maidens, Centaurs, antelope Centaurs, deer Centaurs, Cephalids, Changelings, Cyclopes, Dauthi, Demons, Devils, Djinn, Dragons, Dwarves, Dryads, Efreet, sentient Elementals, Elves, Eumidians, Faeries, Flamekin, Giants, Goblins, sapient Golems, Gorgons, sapient Gorillas, Hags, Homarids, Iquati, Kami and other sentient Spirit races, Kithkin, Kitsune, Kor, Lammasu, Leonin, Loxodon, fishtailed Merfolk, Merfolk with legs, flying Elf-Merfolk, Metathran, Minotaurs, Mistfolk, Mycoids, Myr, Nantuko, Nezumi, Nightstalkers, Noggles, Ogres, Orcs, Orochi, Ouphes, Phyrexians, Puca, Rhox, Sangrazuls, Selkies, Serpent people, Slivers, Soltari, Soratami, Sphinxes, Surrakar, Thalakos, Thrulls, Treefolk, Trolls, Vampires, Vedalken, Viashino, Werewolves, Wolfir, the talking Wolves of Tel-Jilad... since the game pulls creatures from about 50 different planes, it's kind of justified.
On the Shoulders of Giants has twelve spacefaring races in the Local Cluster alone. Given that it's technically set in the Mass Effect universe, this is on top of the eleven or so canon races.
The Star Wars series is an extreme example of Loads and Loads of Races, as the galaxy that serves as its setting has over 20 million sentient species. Even the first movie showed loads of races (though not too many non-humans in the main cast), and the Expanded Universe delights in detailing more and more of them, numbering in the hundreds.
Animorphs, very much so. You have your main races: the Andalites, Yeerks, Hork-Bajir, Taxxons, Skrit-Na, Helmacrons, Gedds; and your less mentioned but described ones like Arn, Anati, Kelbrid, Nesk, Mercora, Venber, Iskoort, Garatron, Orff, Leerans, Howlers, Ketran (the Ellimist is one), robot Chee, and extinct Pemalites, plus sapient whales and dolphins.
China Miéville's Bas-Lag Cycle has at least 15 sapient races (and possibly several more whose identity as separate sepcies or merely cultures hasn't been made clear), and that's not counting multiple types of undead, self-aware Dungeon Punk robots, Demons, elementals and Wyrmen who seem to be a borderline case.
Discworld started with humans, trolls, and elves — although even this was explained in the context of Rincewind trying to work out why there were still dryads. Then gnomes and dwarfs got added in The Light Fantastic, and gnolls in Equal Rites. Then Reaper Man added zombies, vampires, werewolves, weremen, bogeymen and banshees. Then Lords and Ladies introduced The Fair Folk, so the elves that had been vaguely mentioned previously had to be explained as Half-Human Hybrids. Feet of Clay added golems, and Carpe Jugulum added the Nac Mac Feegle (and the Igors, if they count as a race). Thief of Time included yeti. Unseen Academicals introduced orcs and featured the first mention of goblins, who would go on to play a major role in Snuff (as well as a throwaway reference to a "Medusa" in the Watch). (And Night Watch had a brief mention of kvetches, but never really explained what they were beyond being covered in hair).
In the same vein as the Golems we get Gargoyles. On a stranger front, we get Demons, Things from the Dungeon Dimension, and certain Anthropomorphic Personifications (Time specifically, but maybe each one can be seen as a separate race). Also gods, genies (Sourcery), Auditors of Reality, occasional sentient dragons (The Colour of Magic and Guards! Guards!), "Stupid Lizard Men" (presumed extinct as of The Last Hero) and Furies (Unseen Academicals)
The Chronicles of Narnia: Besides the managerie of beings in Narnia: Dwarfs, Fauns, Dryads (tree nymphs/gods/spirits), Centaurs, Stayrs, Naiads (water nymphs/gods/spirits), Giants, Unicorns, Winged Horses, and Talking Beasts, Other various beings are mentioned in certain books: The monsters and demons in the White Witch's Army (Evil Dwarfs, Evil Giants, Werewolves, Evil trees and plants, Ghouls, Boggles, Ogres, Minotaurs, Cruels, Hags, Spectres, People of the Toadstools, Incubuses, Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Sprites, Orknies, Wooses, and Ettins), the Humans from Calormen, Archenland, Telmar, and the Islands, Stars, Merpeople (traditional half human-half fish hybrid), Sea People (aquatic, water-breathing humanoids with purple hair), Duffers/Monopods/Dufflepuds (one-legged Dwarfs), Dragons, Sea Serpents, Giant Squids, Krackens, Birds from the Sun, Marshwiggles, Gnomes(who look a little more like Petting Zoo People or devils with pitchforks than whimsical, diminuitive cousins to Dwarfs), and Salamanders.
The Sector General series by James White, set on a space-station hospital, has so many races, they have a four-letter coding system to classify them rather than just list a few (or a few dozen). Even at that, humans have to share the code "DBDG" with two other (vaguely human-looking) species. There are well over fifteen species with at least minor speaking roles.
In Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series, literally every species of mammal, bird, amphibian, or turtle on Earth has an equivalent intelligent race. An unspecified number of insect (Plated Folk) and spider (Weaver) species likewise come in sentient as well as mundane varieties. Humans are also present, as are numerous other intelligent races, some with a mythological basis (dragons, fairies, unicorns) and others made up from scratch. All told, that's got to be tens of thousands of races at a minimum, possibly over a million.
Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series has a lot of races, as pretty much every planet with life has sentient natives also. Aside from a few dozen species known to the Commonwealth, the planet Quofum stands out as world-of-origin to perhaps hundreds of sentient races, some still extant and others extinct.
David Brin's Uplift Universe spans 5 galaxies which are packed with vast numbers of alien species, since they all keep genetically uplifting animal species to create new races. Not only are there thousands or millions of oxygen-breather species grouped in the various Galactic clans, but there are also very exotic retired races, hydrogen-breathers, sentient machines, quantum races, Solarians, and transcendent races. 215 have been named so far, with over 80 encountered or described in detail.
In the Xanth series there're humans, centaurs, goblins, harpies, merpeople, demons, nagas, elves, werewolves, fauns, nymphs, ogres, giants, zombies, ghosts, and several other regularly-mentioned races.
Just about every Stock Dinosaur (and even more Non-Stock Dinosaur) species has made an appearance on the island of Dinotopia.
Malazan Book of the Fallen is brimming with them. In addition to baseline humans, you have the four precursor races- K'chain Che'malle (Lizard Folk), the Forkrul Assail (roughly humanoid Knight Templars), the Jaghut (scholarly orcs), and the T'lan Imass (think undead neanderthals). There are also the K'chain Nah'ruk, an offshoot of the Che'malle. Then you have the three Tiste races, Andii, Edur, and Liosan (corresponding to darkness, shadow, and light, respectively). Then you have the Thelomen Toblakai, who have splintered into various offshoot races, most notably the Teblor. Then you've got a bunch of nonhumans who are part of the same general family as humans and the Imass, including the Barghast and the Moranth. Then you've got the Great Ravens and the dragons, both of which are sentient races. Finally, there's a whole plethora of sentient demons.
The Myth Adventures novels have featured such nonhuman sentient races as Pervects, Imps, Deveels, Trolls/Trollops, gargoyles, dragons, gremlins, gnomes, Shutterbugs, Wuhses, vampires, werewolves, raterriers, mall rats, and dozens of others. The roster of Human Aliens is pretty long (Klahds, Jahks, Kewpies, Archers) too.
In The Hainish Cycle (or Ekumen) by Ursula K. Le Guin every planet is a Lost Colony populated by Human Aliens descending from the same species. While people from different planets may look radically different, most planets are no more diverse than Earth. The biggest exception is Rocannon from Rocannon's World. As a result of some ancient genetic experiments it has 5 distinct species of Humanoid Aliens (some of which are also split into subraces, with rampant Fantastic Racism) and lots of species of non-humanoid aliens. Midway through the book the Earthling hero refuses to hunt since he may kill someone who can talk, though locals aren't that picky. Another victim of gene tinkering are indeterminate-gendered Gethenians from The Left Hand of Darkness.
At least 25 different races have appeared in Andromeda.
In Babylon 5 the Milky Way has a large number of (usually humanoid) races — the major players near the Babylon 5 station are Minbari, Centauri, Narn, and Humans, plus the two Precursor races, but then there's the League of Non-aligned Worlds, a collection of at least a dozen minor powers, including the Drazi, Markab, Vree, and Pak'ma'ra. And then there're other species that only turn up once or twice like the Dilgar, the Streib, and the Soul Hunters. The Babylon Project wiki lists 77 known intelligent species, and is missing at least 2 more.
Doctor Who has Time Lords, Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans and their enemies the Rutan Host, Ice Warriors, Zygons, Tereleptils, Silurians and Sea Devils, the Nestene Consciousness, Zarbi, Menoptera, Eternals, Osirans, Usurians, Monoids, Alpha Centaurians, Axons, Argolin, Foamasi, intelligent cacti from Zolfa Thura, Tractators, the Cheetah People, Haemovores and their giant cousins the Great Vampires, Tharils, Macra, Krynoids, and even humans. Then the new series introduced Raxicoricofallapatorians (often mistakenly called the Slitheen), Ood, Judoon, Sycorax, Adipose, Pyrovillians, Saturnynians, Crafayis, Malmooth, Weeping Angels, the Silence, and many other background races and individuals. Don't even get started on the Doctor Who Expanded Universe of which one race, Chelonians, have been mentioned in the new series...
Classical Mythology features many "races": Ordinary mortals, gods (including titans and daimones), nymphs, cyclopes, giants, centaurs, satyrs, fauns, and six-armed Gegenees; plus various bizarre Human Subspecies: headless Blemmyes, one-eyed Arimaspians, dog-heads, one-legged Skiapodes, four-legged Artabatitai, hermaphroditic Makhlyes, short-lived Kalingoi, mouthless Astomoi, ageless Makroboi, Golden and Silver Men, and more.
BIONICLE: Toa-Matoran-Turaga, Makuta, Vortixx, Rahkshi; the Visorak, the Skakdi (which include the Piraka), Zyglak, and various unnamed races in the Matoran Universe. Agori, Glatorian, Skrall, Bone Hunters, Great Beings, and Elemental Lords on Spherus Magna.
Video Games with loads of non-playable races
Earth Eternal started beta with 22 PC races. Note that they are mechanically identical; all 22 play the same with nary a stat or ability difference, thus they don't give Massive Race Selection. In-universe, however, they're all entirely separate species (mostly Petting Zoo People, plus Plant People, Clockwork dudes, Cyclopes, Yeti, and Warcraft Orcs with the serial numbers filed off). Then there were the non-playable races in the lore — mushroom people, tree people, vampires, liches, humans, Dor'kana aliens, demons, gods, creepy Dwarf/Mole-Rat guys, the extinct Maar, and more Petting Zoo People. Sadly, the actual game only has 12 PC races, presumably still with no mechanical distinction.
Guild Wars 2 features Humans, Asura, Charr (Cat Folk), Norn (Norse giants), Sylvari (plant people), Centaurs, Dredge (communist molerat people), Giants (several subraces), Grawl (ape people), Hylek (Mayincatec frog people), Kodan (polar bear people), Krait (snake people), Ogres, Quaggan (pacifist manatee/whale people), Skritt (hiveminded rat people), Tengu (bird people), and some more familiar fantasy races. Only the first five are playable, disqualifying it for Massive Race Selection.
Kingdom Hearts not only has all the races from various Disney worlds, but also the Heartless, Nobodies, Unversed, and Dream Eaters, though whether they count is a matter of contention.
Super Mario Bros. has a massive ammount colorful and unique races. The ones with bigger focus on them in the main platformer series alone are Humans, Toads, Koopas, Yoshis, Piantas and Lumas, with many other minor friendly ones here and there. The sentient races that tend to stick to the Mook side of things add Goombas, Koopa Troopas (and their many variations), Lakitus, Shy Guys, Boos, Bob-ombs, and several others to the list. Take into account the races added by theRPGsubseries, the many, many spin-offs, and the Shared Universes with the Donkey Kong and Warioseries, and the numbers skyrocket faster than you can say "Mamma Mia!".
To give an idea of just how many there are, the Super Mario Wiki has a category listing every species. It has over five hundred pages in it, though not all of them are sapient.
The Mass Effect setting qualifies since the only race available for single-player characters is human, though Mass Effect 3 multiplayer falls under Massive Race Selection instead. In just the races of the current cycle, we have humans, turians, asari, salarians, quarians, geth, batarians, elcor, volus, krogan, hanar, drell, vorcha, rachni, and yahg. Also known are the protheans (the dominant race of the preceding cycle), the thorian (a mind-controlling plant creature predating the current cycle), the Inusannon (the race dominating the cycle prior to the protheans), the Reapers (the Big Bad, a race of cybernetic Eldritch Abominations that harvest spacefaring peoples every 50,000 years or so), and the Leviathans (a roughly 1 billion-year-old species of building-sized squid whose ill-advised attempt to protect their vassal races from themselves caused the Reapers' creation).
Supplementary materials mention a race that used Brain Uploading to escape their world, the raloi (birdlike aliens), and the Kirik, a race of biotic insects with signs of intelligence.
Might and Magic VI has a single playable race (humans), and takes place in a setting with elves (at least three variants, though only two were known at the time), dwarves (at least two variants, though the second wasn't revealed until two games later), goblins, orchs, centaurs, demons-that-are-really-aliens, demons-that-are-not-aliens, angels, genies, efreet, minotaurs, gremlins, halflings, robots, dragons, lizardfolk, gnolls, treants, naga, cyclops, trolls, ogres, several elemental beings (four known at the time)... admittedly, many of those don't actually show up in that game, but they had been established to exist by previous games and a concurrently released game that took place on the same world. The following RPG games also count, as the only one that arguably reaches 6 playable races is VIII, and that depends on if you count vampires that explicitly reproduce by infecting others with vampirism as a 'race' for the purposes of the Massive Race Selection trope.
The Warcraft universe began with just Orcs and Humans, but eventually went on to include Dwarves, Gnomes, High Elves, Trolls, Ogres, Goblins, Night Elves, Tauren, Undead, Nerubians, Centaurs, Ancients, Draenei, Satyrs, Furbolgs, Dragons, Worgen, Pandaren, Eredar, Naga, all kinds of Demons, Gnolls, Faceless Ones.... and a lot more.
The Starfleet Adventures mod for EV Nova has at least fifteen governments controlling territory on the map, and that's when you count the United Federation of Planets as a single species to save time. The number tops thirty easily when you don't. Your Player Character is human, though there are nonhuman command crew available.
Drowtales may qualify, largely as the result of curses, transformation spells that couldn't be reversed, and genetic engineering experiments. Specifically, you've got: elven races (dokkalfar, drowolath, drowussu, vanir, ver'drowendar, and xule'solen), dwarven races (duergar and gnomes), goblins (embari, halmes, rift halmes, hemoines, kotorcs, and noz), ferals (normal cat, squashed - face cat, and racoon variants), nagas, driders (waeliniders, streekaiders, and ne'kalsaiders), dryads, and locust faeries.
The Mansion of E has numerous species living in the vast underground complex beneath the Mansion; their ancestors were gathered there as exhibits in a zoo by another now-vanished species. They include Humans, Gnolls, Nomes, Ghasts, Oozes, Wyrms (large and small), Troglodytes, Saurs, Motihauls, Ichyoids, Helipaths, Gobules, Pales, Jibjibs, Spyders, Robots, Killer Trees, and Talking Rocks.
The Order of the Stick has plenty, based as it is on D&D, but it also has a surprisingly broad distribution among the actual characters. Even discounting random monsters, there have been at least three named characters for each of the following: human (Roy, Haley, Elan), elf/dark elf (Vaarsuvius, Lirian, Zz'dtri), dwarf (Durkon, Hilgya, Kraagor), halfling (Belkar, Serini, Hank), half-orc (Thog, Therkla, Bozzok), kobold (Yikyik, Kilkil, the Oracle), lizardfolk (Gannji, Enor, Malack), goblinoid (Redcloak, Jirix, Right-Eye)—plus the occasional sylph (Celia), gnome (Leeky), catfolk, weird frog person, ogre, etc.
In Rice Boy's homeworld, Overside, there tend to be well-defined civilisation-races like the Frog-Men of Spatch, the Fin-Folk of Tenshells, the Machine-Men of the Iron Teeth, the Horned of the Stone Palm... and then there are people like Arctaur, with four closely-packed legs and a head like a cross between a broken donut and a power adapter. Many oneshot body types seem to once have been part of their own race, but estranged in space or the Last of His Kind. Beyond the above, the wiki names and describes Blackbirds, Dimmons, Fluters, Gaundts, Gorrkans, Hornèds, Ice-Striders, Machine Men, Rhed, Sahtans, Shade-Kin, Sirpah, Trills, and War-Men. There are also the unnamed inhabitants of Seen and Taragi, and the mysterious White Formless.
Schlock Mercenary features humans, neophants, primates, amorphs, F'Sherl-Ganni, Pa'anuri, Frellenti, Fobott'r, Vhorwed, Uniocs, Uklakk, Schuul, O'Benn, Kssthrata, Daehremmah, Ystreben, Kreelies, Bradicor, and Enireth. Members of each of these have been prominent protagonists or antagonists of at least one story arc.
One strip suggests that even these are just the tip of the iceberg.
The Orion's Arm setting contains millions of different "clades." Most of these are terragen (descended from Earth life) and include Human Subspecies (some of which look more like Starfish Aliens) and provolved animals. There're also AIs, cyborgs, robots, sentient vehicles, and at least 17 extant xenosophont species that have been identified, and only about a 10,000 light-year radius sphere of the galaxy has been explored.
Humans. The most populous race in the world, they have many societies ranging from nomadic horse lords to sophisticated magocracies.
Elves. Graceful people who often live in forests but can just as easily be seen in cities as well. They have great knowledge of nature and its remedies.
Dwarves. Short and passionate people best known for their prodigious skills with the forge, many of them live under mountains although some have settled into human cities.
Gods. The immortals who live in the High Plane, they follow their own agendas and scheme against one another while using the mortal races for their own ends.
Faerfolc. Mysterious protectors of the forests, they and elves have a connection. They possess fey magick which can be beneficial or dangerous to anyone who comes across them depending on circumstances.
Dragons. Massive creatures who can fly and breathe fire and decimate armies. They've chosen not to interfere in mortal affairs, however, and merely observe events from their home mountains nicknamed the Roost.
Demons. Winged beings who originate from the Demon Realm and who have recently begun settling into the Land of the Living. They can shapeshift into many forms and are rather chaotic, seeing other races than themselves as lesser beings.
Lefein. Look deceptively like humans yet live for thousands of years. They're collectors of wisdom and are at home with various machines which they keep inventing.
Nymphs. A curious all-female race which lives deep in the forests. They often end up having sexual encounters with travellers which is why rangers call a nymph their fondest conquest. Under their gentle and curious exterior is something far more troubled, however.
Itica. Humanoid cat people who live a wandering lifestyle althouh other races rarely see them due to their preference to stay out of people's businesses. They have sharp senses.
Kitsune. Shapeshifting magical foxes who are often confused for demons. Guardians of lost knowledge and bardic songs, they're a musical and mischievious race who can just as easily be benevolent or malevolent depending on the circumstances.
Sirithai. Desert-dwelling lizardfolk who are ruthless but
Trolls. Hairy and seemingly dumb creatures although they are good at operating machinery of various kinds. They have invented a pastime referred to as trolling which includes having jokes on other people's expense.
Pixies. Tiny winged humanoids who can channel magic more easily than other races.
Undead. Unnatural beings whose souls haven't settled into the Land of the Dead for various reasons and who thus exist between life and death. Several variants exist such as zombies, ghosts, liches, revenants.
The original My Little Pony cartoon. Earth Ponies, Pegasus Ponies, Unicorn Ponies, Sea Ponies, Flutter Ponies, Bushwoolies, Grundles, Furbobs, Stonebacks, Flories, Crab Nasties, and more.
As of Season 4 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, we have the first three of those as the most common races of Equine, plus Crystal Ponies, Breezies, Changelings, Saddle Arabians, Zebras, Donkeys, Mules, and Alicorns. When you extend it to non-Equine races, you also have Dragons, Diamond Dogs, Centaurs, Minotaurs, Buffalo, at least three sapient farm animals(two of which are taken care of by Applejack's family for some reason), Humans, Sea Serpents, Draconequii, and whatever Ahuizotl is. If you dip into the books and comics, you add to the bundle Seaponies and Merponies, Trolls, Giant Spiders, Demons of varying sorts, Moonbeasts, and a plethora of intelligent underwater denizens
According to South Park, each species and race on Earth—from deer and elephants to Asian and Jewish humans—is actually a separate species which came to Earth countless years ago for an intergalactic reality TV show. Every other planet has only one species each.
The Ben 10 franchise revolves around a boy who can transform into several distinct superpowered alien species, starting with 10 and going up from there. Each species is fleshed out, either through screen-time, being All There in the Manual, or both. The image above is but a handful of the species revealed by the third series, and were not even talking about the alien species established by other characters and villains.
Wakfu is this at first glance, though in fact it is a subversion of this trope. The "races" in Dofus (and by extension Wakfu) are more along the line of classes or religions. The characters may change in appearance to match that of their gods, but all are still basically "humans" (and there are un-classed, baseline human NPCs too). Which explains why interbreeding — like with Kabrok (an Osamodas) and Miranda (an Ecaflip), or with Sadlygrove (a Iop) and Evangelyne (a Crâ) — is perfectly possible.
Depending on whether you're a lumper or a splitter, fossil evidence indicates that as many as nine distinct types of pre-human hominid could have inhabited various regions of the Earth at the same time in the prehistoric past. Whether or not any particular species would've rated as "sentient" is questionable, although a few of them did leave evidence of tool use.