Humans First Started Wearing Clothes At Least 300,000 Years Ago, New Research Finds

Images courtesy of University of Tuebingen

That people wore clothes back in the Stone Age will hardly come as a surprise to anyone who grew up watching The Flintstones. That show, never wholly reliant on established archaeological fact, didn’t get too specific about its time period. But it turns out, based on recently published discoveries by a team of researchers from the University of Tübingen, the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, and Leiden University, that Stone Agers were dressing themselves as early as 300,000 years ago — over one hundred millennia earlier than previously thought.

“This is suggested by cut marks on the metatarsal and phalanx of a cave bear discovered at the Lower Paleolithic site of Schöningen in Lower Saxony, Germany,” says the University of Tübingen’s site. The location of such marks indicate that the bear was not simply butchered but carefully skinned.

A cave bear’s winter coat “consists of both long outer hairs that form an airy protective layer and short, dense hairs that provide particularly good insulation” — making it a fine winter coat for a prehistoric human being as well. Such a use of bear skins “is likely a key adaptation of early humans to the climate in the north,” where winters would be difficult indeed without warm clothing.

Though some residents of Bedrock did wear furs (made from the prized pelts of the minkasaurus), they seemed not to be essential to survival in that Stone Age equivalent of California. Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear proved much more realistic about this sort of thing, though its characters live and die between 28,000 and 25,000 BC, the relatively recent past compared to the Lower Paleolithic from which this particular cave bear dates. It was also in Schöningen that “the world’s oldest spears were discovered,” making it a prime location from which to understand more clearly the ways of humans from that distant period. If a foot-powered Stone Age car were one day to be unearthed, it would surely be unearthed there.

via Boing Boing

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter Books on Cities, the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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