Clothing Usage 170,000 BCE

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

The modern era has seenaccelerating hybridization dissolving these unique groups away.

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

Besides, protecting the genitalslikely had a far longer history for simple practical reasons.  That may also have provide a haven forclothing 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 anunlikely source - the annoying clothing louse.

David Reed, associate curator of mammals at the Florida Museum of NaturalHistory on the University of Florida campus, worked with colleaguesworldwide for five years to sequence the DNA of clothing lice to determine whenthey 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 lousespecies began to diverge into two about 170,000 years ago, 70,000 years beforehumans started migrating to colder climates, which began about 100,000 yearsago.

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

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

"It wasn't until they had clothing that modern humans were thenmoving out of Africa into other parts of theworld," Reed said.

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

This means modern humans probably started wearing clothes on a regularbasis to keep warm when they were first exposed to Ice Age conditions, Ian Gilligan, lecturer in the Schoolof Archaeology and Anthropology at TheAustralian National Universitysaid in a release.

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

By Elizabeth Weise

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