- Our ancestors may have started making clothes as far back as 120,000 years ago
- Archaeologists find evidence of ancient bone tools in Moroccan cave
- Homo sapiens is thought to have first started wearing clothes about 170,000 years ago.
- But this is the earliest example of the use of tools to work leather and fur into clothing.
When it comes to keeping up with the latest fashions, it appears that modern humans may have gotten an earlier start than most scientists had anticipated.
That’s because a new study suggests that our earliest ancestors may have started making clothes using bone tools as early as 120,000 years ago.
Although it is estimated that Homo sapiens first began wearing clothing about 170,000 years ago, it was not until 50,000 years later that they became slightly more sophisticated.
Archaeologists have discovered ancient bone tools in a Moroccan cave that they believe used leather and fur to make clothing between 90,000 and 120,000 years ago.
However, previous research indicates that it was not until 40,000 years ago that humans began making more fitted clothing using needles and thread.
Archaeologists have discovered ancient bone tools (pictured) in a Moroccan cave that they believe were used to work leather and fur into clothing between 90,000 and 120,000 years ago.
This graphic shows how scientists think early humans broke bones to use as tools on clothes
When did humans start using tools?
It is difficult for scientists to say exactly when humans began making tools because the more primitive remains look like a natural object rather than a human artifact.
The oldest known tools are Oldowan stone tools from Ethiopia, dated to about 2.6 million years ago.
The Acheulean Tool Technology period – 1.76 million years ago – featured large stone hand axes made of flint and quartzite.
Towards the end of this period, tools became more sophisticated and then followed the so-called Levallois technique, which saw the creation of scrapers, slicers, needles and flattened needles.
More sophisticated and specialized flint tools were made and used by Neanderthals about 50,000 years ago and the tools are believed to have been made from bone at this stage.
As human culture advanced, artifacts such as fish hooks, buttons, and bone needles began to be used.
Emilie Hallett of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany said: ‘These bone tools have traces of shaping and use that indicate they were used to make leather and pellets to make fur. Used to scratch.
‘At the same time, I found a pattern of cut marks on carnivorous bones from the Contrebandier Cave, which suggested that humans were not carnivores for meat but were skinning them for their fur.’
Clothing made of fur and skins played an important role in the ability of early humans to navigate the colder parts of the world during the Pleistocene.
The earliest evidence for clothing in ancient humans is stone tools found at archaeological sites, such as the Gran Dolina in the Spanish Atapuerca Mountains, associated with Homo antescar and dated to about 780,000 years ago, which were used to make animal skins. could be done for.
There is clear evidence from Neanderthals, who lived as far back as 400,000 years ago, as the musculature patterns on their arms suggested they performed tasks such as preparing hides.
But for modern humans, clothing was not worn in Africa until at least 170,000 years ago.
However, not much is known about the clothing tradition and its manufacture because fur and other organic materials are generally not preserved in the archaeological record, especially not in deposits that are 100,000 or more years old.
According to the study authors, the new findings provide ‘highly suggestive proxy evidence for the earliest clothing in the archaeological record’.
Some skinned fox bones found by archaeologists in the Contrebandiers cave
Researchers identified 62 bone tools from Contrebandiers Cave (pictured) that were sculpted in various ways to create regular shapes.
Archaeologists have been seen excavating in a Moroccan cave in North Africa
The researchers identified 62 bone tools from the Contrebandier Cave that were sculpted in various ways to create regular shapes. They were also polished and smoothed.
Along with bone tools were remains of sand foxes, golden jackals and feral cats, all consistent with the theory that people removed their skins to use as fur clothing.
Remains of other types of animals related to modern cattle found within the cave show distinct traces, suggesting that they were processed for meat.
Hallett said, “Our findings suggest that early humans were making bone tools that were used to prepare hides and furs, and that this behavior is part of a larger tradition with earlier examples that still exist today. have not received.”
The research has been published in the journal iScience.
When did human ancestors first emerge?
The timeline of human evolution can be traced back to millions of years. Experts estimate the family tree as follows:
55 million years ago – the first primitive primates evolve
15 million years ago – Hominidae (great apes) evolved from ancestors of gibbons
7 million years ago – The gorillas evolve first. Later, the chimpanzee and human lineages separate
Recreation of Neanderthal man depicted
5.5 million years ago – Ardipithecus, shares traits with early ‘proto-human’ chimpanzees and gorillas
4 million years ago – Apes appeared australopithecines, like early humans. They didn’t have a bigger brain than a chimpanzee, but had other human characteristics
3.9-2.9 million years ago – Australopithecus afarensis lived in Africa.
2.7 million years ago – Paranthropus, lived in the forest and had large jaws for chewing
2.6 million years ago – The hand ax became the first major technological innovation