Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Oldest-Known Shell Beads Found In South Africa Show Modern Human Behaviour

19.04.2004


Researchers have found perforated shells that appear to be beads dating back 76,000 years ago, causing the development of language and symbolic communication to be older than previously thought by 30,000 years.

The 41 tick shells, punctured with holes of roughly one centimetre across in the same place, were found at Blombos Cave site, 300 km east of Cape Town, South Africa, by Christopher Henshilwood, a professor at the Centre for Development Studies of the University of Bergen in Norway, and his team. Their results are published in this Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

Until now, the oldest beads found in Africa were about 45,000-years-old. It was at this time modern human behaviour—a key aspect being symbolic communication—was believed to have arisen, according to the then-dominant theory. However, the new shell find supports modern human behaviour developing earlier, more gradually throughout the Middle Stone Age.



Found in clusters of 2 to 17, the shells are of a tiny mollusc (Nassarius kraussianus) that lived in estuaries. The team ruled out the possibility that they were deposited there naturally. Shells in the same group display a similar size, shade, and perforation size. They also have a similar use-wear pattern, consistent with friction from rubbing against thread, clothes or other beads. Microscopic residues of ochre detected inside the shells suggest the beads were in contact with something coloured red.

It is believed that full syntactical language is a requisite to share and transmit the symbolic meaning of beadworks and abstract engravings such as those at Blombos Cave. Last year, the same cave also yielded two pieces of 77,000-year-old ochre cut with abstract patterns.

The team’s work is part of a European Science Foundation EUROCORES programme, Origin of Man, Language and Languages, the largest interdisciplinary effort in Europe to study language and its development. The work was also funded by the National Science Foundation (US), the South African National Research Foundation, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France), the University of Bergen (Norway), the Anglo-Americans Chairman’s Fund and the British Council.

Jens Degett | ESF
Further information:
http://www.esf.org/esf_pressarea_page.php?newsrelease=74&

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Algorithm provides early warning system for tracking groundwater contamination
14.08.2018 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht Artificial Glaciers in Response to Climate Change?
10.08.2018 | Universität Heidelberg

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

Im Focus: Lining up surprising behaviors of superconductor with one of the world's strongest magnets

Scientists have discovered that the electrical resistance of a copper-oxide compound depends on the magnetic field in a very unusual way -- a finding that could help direct the search for materials that can perfectly conduct electricity at room temperatur

What happens when really powerful magnets--capable of producing magnetic fields nearly two million times stronger than Earth's--are applied to materials that...

Im Focus: World record: Fastest 3-D tomographic images at BESSY II

The quality of materials often depends on the manufacturing process. In casting and welding, for example, the rate at which melts solidify and the resulting microstructure of the alloy is important. With metallic foams as well, it depends on exactly how the foaming process takes place. To understand these processes fully requires fast sensing capability. The fastest 3D tomographic images to date have now been achieved at the BESSY II X-ray source operated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.

Dr. Francisco Garcia-Moreno and his team have designed a turntable that rotates ultra-stably about its axis at a constant rotational speed. This really depends...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

2018 Work Research Conference

25.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Building up' stretchable electronics to be as multipurpose as your smartphone

14.08.2018 | Information Technology

During HIV infection, antibody can block B cells from fighting pathogens

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

First study on physical properties of giant cancer cells may inform new treatments

14.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>