Friday, October 19, 2007

Prehistoric Clam Bakes

Around 164 thousand years ago, some humans were having clam bakes on the shores of Africa. This is reported in an article by Will Dunham titled For early humans, a beach party and clam bake in S.Africa.

Dunham wrote, "For early humans, one of the first displays of modern behavior was a sort of beach party and clam bake along the coast of South Africa. Artifacts found in a cave on coastal cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean showed that these people 164,000 years ago cooked mussels and other shellfish, used red pigment perhaps as body paint and made small stone blades that could be used at the tip of a spear -- all far earlier than previously thought."

Sally McBrearty of the University of Connecticut and Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in London said these findings "provide strong evidence that early humans displayed key elements of modern behavior" 164,000 years ago.

Dunham wrote, "The researchers said this is the earliest known evidence for pigment use. And symbolic behavior indicates that these people may have used some sort of language, they added. The previous earliest evidence for tools like the small, thin stone blades found at the site dates to 70,000 years ago, the researchers said."

This may be the earliest evidence found but it really isn't that surprising. Modern humans who lived long ago (even 164 thousand years) were just as smart as we are now and they were driven by many of the same basic needs and desires. They may have been primitive but they were not stupid. Of course they would have clam bakes if they lived by the sea. And why not use makeup? I am going to have to find the original Nature article now and read the whole study. This is very interesting.

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