Earth Science News  





.
ABOUT US
Humans First Wore Clothes 170,000 Years Ago

File image.
by Staff Writers
Gainesville FL (SPX) Jan 10, 2011
A new University of Florida study following the evolution of lice shows modern humans started wearing clothes about 170,000 years ago, a technology which enabled them to successfully migrate out of Africa.

Principal investigator David Reed, associate curator of mammals at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus, studies lice in modern humans to better understand human evolution and migration patterns. His latest five-year study used DNA sequencing to calculate when clothing lice first began to diverge genetically from human head lice.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the study is available online and appears in this month's print edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution.

"We wanted to find another method for pinpointing when humans might have first started wearing clothing," Reed said. "Because they are so well adapted to clothing, we know that body lice or clothing lice almost certainly didn't exist until clothing came about in humans."

The data shows modern humans started wearing clothes about 70,000 years before migrating into colder climates and higher latitudes, which began about 100,000 years ago. This date would be virtually impossible to determine using archaeological data because early clothing would not survive in archaeological sites.

The study also shows humans started wearing clothes well after they lost body hair, which genetic skin-coloration research pinpoints at about 1 million years ago, meaning humans spent a considerable amount of time without body hair and without clothing, Reed said.

"It's interesting to think humans were able to survive in Africa for hundreds of thousands of years without clothing and without body hair, and that it wasn't until they had clothing that modern humans were then moving out of Africa into other parts of the world," Reed said.

Lice are studied because unlike most other parasites, they are stranded on lineages of hosts over long periods of evolutionary time. The relationship allows scientists to learn about evolutionary changes in the host based on changes in the parasite.

Applying unique data sets from lice to human evolution has only developed within the last 20 years, and provides information that could be used in medicine, evolutionary biology, ecology or any number of fields, Reed said.

"It gives the opportunity to study host-switching and invading new hosts - behaviors seen in emerging infectious diseases that affect humans," Reed said.

A study of clothing lice in 2003 led by Mark Stoneking, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, estimated humans first began wearing clothes about 107,000 years ago. But the UF research includes new data and calculation methods better suited for the question.

"The new result from this lice study is an unexpectedly early date for clothing, much older than the earliest solid archaeological evidence, but it makes sense," said Ian Gilligan, lecturer in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at The Australian National University.

"It means modern humans probably started wearing clothes on a regular basis to keep warm when they were first exposed to Ice Age conditions."

The last Ice Age occurred about 120,000 years ago, but the study's date suggests humans started wearing clothes in the preceding Ice Age 180,000 years ago, according to temperature estimates from ice core studies, Gilligan said. Modern humans first appeared about 200,000 years ago.

Because archaic hominins did not leave descendants of clothing lice for sampling, the study does not explore the possibility archaic hominins outside of Africa were clothed in some fashion 800,000 years ago. But while archaic humans were able to survive for many generations outside Africa, only modern humans persisted there until the present.

"The things that may have made us much more successful in that endeavor hundreds of thousands of years later were technologies like the controlled use of fire, the ability to use clothing, new hunting strategies and new stone tools," Reed said.

Study co-authors were Melissa Toups of Indiana University and Andrew Kitchen of The Pennsylvania State University, both previously with UF. Co-author Jessica Light of Texas A and M University was formerly a post-doctoral fellow at the Florida Museum. The researchers completed the project with the help of Reed's NSF Faculty Early Career Development Award, which is granted to researchers who exemplify the teacher-researcher role.




Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
University of Florida
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here



Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
ABOUT US
Publication of ESP study causes furor
Ithaca, N.Y. (UPI) Jan 8, 2011
A U.S. psychology journal is publishing a paper asserting that people may be able to see the future, angering some scientists. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology plans to print "Feeling The Future" by Daryl Bem this year, The Daily Telegraph reports. Bem, a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca N.Y., said experiments he carried out on students suggest humans can predi ... read more

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  


ABOUT US
Time for aid groups to 'step aside' in Haiti: MSF

Aid group says Haiti rebuilding effort too slow

In Haiti, empty tombs but no resurrection

'Noah's Ark' refuge for Australia's flood-hit animals

ABOUT US
Direct Observation Of Carbon Monoxide Binding To Metal-Porphyrines

Tablets and smart gadgets ruled at CES

Liquid Pistons Could Drive New Advances In Camera Lenses And Drug Delivery

How Do You Make Lithium Melt In The Cold

ABOUT US
Low squid haul worries Argentina

Study Establishes Methods To Assess Recycled Aquifer Water

Igloo-Shaped Poo-Gloos Eat Sewage

US urges less fluoride in water supply

ABOUT US
Warming to devastate glaciers, Antarctic icesheet - studies

Russia reaches first stranded fishermen

Russia frees two of five ships trapped in ice floes

Polar Bears No Longer On Thin Ice

ABOUT US
Germany seeks to learn dioxin lessons

Statistical Analysis Can Estimate Crop Performance

Germany re-opens farms and vows action after dioxin scare

Global fears rise over German meat

ABOUT US
8 dead, scores missing in Australian flash floods

'Dramatic' rain warning for flood-soaked Australia

Veteran pilot astounded by Australian floods

More rains for Australia's flooded northeast

ABOUT US
Much hope as Sudan's election starts

AFRICOM's Gen. Ward visits Rwanda

Young French hostages executed in Niger desert

Ivory Coast leader intensifies stand-off with world

ABOUT US
Impact Of Traffic Noise On Sleep Patterns

Humans First Wore Clothes 170,000 Years Ago

Publication of ESP study causes furor

Biological Joints Could Replace Artificial Joints Soon


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement