Saturday, January 22, 2011

Clothing Usage 170,000 BCE

Five years ago, my best published figure for modern man was around 70,000 years.  Now this has creeped back to 200,000 years.  In the end in some locale somewhere during the long million years of ice age, mankind arose.  Some like the coast of South Africa, while I like the Sunda Archipelago.  Most certainly it puts a range of human sub types out there including Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal and a likely slew of those not recognized as yet including Bushmen and other sorts.

The modern era has seen accelerating hybridization dissolving these unique groups away.

This item shows us that the clothing louse emerged around 170,000 years ago.  Once again this is an adaptation that could well emerged locally as conditions insisted.  Get driven up a mountain and the nights become just too cold.  From there necessity soon starts the process of providing some form of clothing and that was usually some form of plant fiber.  Skins take far too much preparation to be quickly adopted and they are also far too warm for marginal need.

Besides, protecting the genitals likely had a far longer history for simple practical reasons.  That may also have provide a haven for clothing lice.

We were all naked until 170,000 years ago

Jan 07, 2011

Clothing first appeared 170,000 years ago. That's what University of Florida researchers have deduced from an unlikely source - the annoying clothing louse.

David Reed, associate curator of mammals at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus, worked with colleagues worldwide for five years to sequence the DNA of clothing lice to determine when they first began to diverge from the harmless but cringe-inducing head louse.

The study, in this month's print edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution, finds that the one louse species began to diverge into two about 170,000 years ago, 70,000 years before humans started migrating to colder climates, which began about 100,000 years ago.

Because clothing doesn't last for 170,000 years, looking at lice was the best way to deduce this.

Interestingly, humans seem to have started wearing clothes well after they lost body hair, which genetic skin-coloration research puts at about 1 million years ago. That means that people spent a good long while wandering around without protective and warming body hair and without clothing, says Reed.

"It wasn't until they had clothing that modern humans were then moving out of Africa into other parts of the world," Reed said.

A previous study of clothing lice in 2003 by geneticists at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, estimated humans first began wearing clothes about 107,000 years ago. But the Florida researchers think their data and calculation methods are more precise.

This means modern humans probably started wearing clothes on a regular basis to keep warm when they were first exposed to Ice Age conditions, Ian Gilligan, lecturer in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at The Australian National University said in a release.

While the last Ice Age occurred about 120,000 years ago, from the study results humans probably began wearing clothes in the one before it, 180,000 years ago. Modern humans first appeared about 200,000 years ago.

By Elizabeth Weise

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