When did humans start wearing clothes?

By Jurassic JennJun 30, 2024 10:05 AMScience
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When did humans start wearing clothes?
When did humans start wearing clothes?. Source: www.theatlantic.com

When did humans start wearing clothes? This question poses a challenge for scientists since clothing doesn't preserve like other artifacts made of stone or bone. However, by employing various creative methods, researchers have revealed fascinating insights. This was reported by SSPDaily.

As early humans evolved, transitioning from tree-dwelling creatures to bipedal beings, they shed their fur. With this loss, our ancestors became vulnerable to the elements and necessitated protection through the use of clothing.

Pinpointing the exact period when humans began wearing clothes is difficult due to the lack of tangible evidence. However, scientists have turned to different sources to gather clues. These include examining bones that exhibit marks of skinning, studying sewing needles and awls, and analyzing lice.

By scrutinizing the genetic history of lice, researchers have extrapolated eventual diversions between the lice that infested human head hair and those that adapted to survive in human clothing. These estimations suggest that around 170,000 years ago, anatomically modern humans likely started wearing simple garments, coinciding with the second-to-last ice age.

Notably, evidence suggests that earlier hominins, potentially Homo heidelbergensis, wore bear skins about 300,000 years ago to combat the colder climate. This conclusion stems from markings on bear bones from the Schöningen Paleolithic site in Germany, indicating a pattern of utilizing bear skins for warmth during this period.

However, it is essential to recognize that evidence of skinning does not certainly denote using animal skins for clothing alone. These materials may have served multiple purposes such as shelter construction. Nonetheless, given the average colder temperatures during that time, it is likely that skins were utilized primarily for insulation.

While it may seem contradictory that evidence of clothing predates the evolution of clothing lice by 130,000 years, it is crucial to understand the limitations of the available data. The presence of lice feeding on human skin implies regular usage of garments. Furthermore, it is plausible that different lineages of clothing lice existed, infesting clothes intermittently over the past million years.

Additionally, it is worth noting that different human groups likely commenced and ceased clothing practices throughout history. For example, Aboriginal people in Tasmania sought shelter in caves between 32,000 and 12,000 years ago during the last ice age. While evidence shows that they crafted clothes using hide scraper tools and bone awls during this period, it eventually vanished from the archaeological record as the climate became warmer.

More intricate and tailored garments, like those embellished with beads and shells, likely emerged with the advancement of sharp tools and the invention of eyed needles. Researchers have traced the oldest known eyed needles back to 40,000 years ago in Siberia's Denisova cave. This crucial development marked a transformation from clothing's utilitarian purpose to more social and refined functions.

In conclusion, the exact origins of clothing among early humans remain challenging to determine, given the lack of preserved evidence. However, through ingenuity and analysis across various disciplines, scientists continue to unravel clues that shed light on our ancestors' adoption of garments and reveal the remarkable ability of humans to adapt and innovate in the face of changing environments.

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