Human evolution News

Shell art 300 thousand years before humans “evolved”?

Spread the love

From New Scientist:

THE artist – if she or he can be called that – was right-handed and used a shark’s tooth. They had a remarkably steady hand and a strong arm. Half a million years ago, on the banks of a calm river in central Java, they scored a deep zigzag into a clam shell.

We will never know what was going on inside its maker’s head, but the tidy, purposeful line (pictured above right) has opened a new window into the origins of our modern creative mind.

It was found etched into the shell of a fossilised freshwater clam, and is around half a million years old – making the line by far the oldest engraving ever found. The date also means it was made two to three hundred thousand years before our own species evolved, by a more ancient hominin, Homo erectus.

Funny how people who claim there is no design in nature immediately abandon their principles when they see a design their ideology permits them to accept.

From Nature:

A zigzag engraving on a shell from Indonesia is the oldest abstract marking ever found. But what is most surprising about the half-a-million-year-old doodle is its likely creator — the human ancestor Homo erectus.

“This is a truly spectacular find and has the potential to overturn the way we look at early Homo,” says Nick Barton, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford, UK, who was not involved in the discovery, which is described in a paper published online in Nature on 3 December1.

By 40,000 years ago, and probably much earlier, anatomically modern humans — Homo sapiens — were painting on cave walls in places as far apart as Europe and Indonesia. Simpler ochre engravings found in South Africa date to 100,000 years ago. Earlier this year, researchers reported a ‘hashtag’ engraving in a Gibraltar cave once inhabited by Neanderthals. That was the first evidence for drawing in any extinct species.

But until the discovery of the shell engraving, nothing approximating art has been ascribed to Homo erectus.

Of course there is no possibility that they were wrong all along about what a human being even is. And Michael Cremo is still wrong, right?

National Geographic News miffs “Our Homo erectus ancestors may have been smarter and more creative than we thought.” Than who thought? You? Legacy science media? Oh, well, that settled it then, It is a wonder any evidence matters after that.

Does the evidence point to mankind’s fully natural origin ?

Early human religion: A 747 built in the basement with an X-Acto knife

Follow UD News at Twitter!

11 Replies to “Shell art 300 thousand years before humans “evolved”?

  1. 1
    awstar says:

    Early human religion: A 747 built in the basement with an X-Acto knife

    Get with the program, News. That X-Acto knife was really a shark’s tooth.

  2. 2
    ForJah says:

    Am I really to take this article as if you found it by yourselves when I just referred to it yesterday for the first time? I detect an instance of Intelligent design! 😉

  3. 3
    Me_Think says:

    I wonder why they took 7 years to confirm that the zigzag line was designed. They could have used CSI and it’s UD varaints to detected design in 7 seconds.

  4. 4
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Funny how people who claim there is no design in nature immediately abandon their principles when they see a design their ideology permits them to accept.

    LOL – true. Supposedly, detecting design is impossible and a non-scientific enterprise.

    The experiments showed that the line is too deep and straight to have been made by an idle hand.

    It couldn’t have been an idle hand (accidental) so they drew an inference to design. I hope our ID opponents will voice their hostility to this pseudo-science which is non-quantified.
    Come on – how much information is in that line – huh?

    Fresh Pseudodon clam shells have a dark brown coat, so the etch would have made a striking white line. All this suggests that it was made deliberately …

    “Made deliberately” — don’t they realize that evolution does everything through blind, unguided natural causes?

    No other animal, not even a chimpanzee, has ever been known to make non-functional markings.

    This assumes that art or decoration is “non functional”.

    “It’s very carefully done,” says Andrew Whiten, a psychologist and primatologist at the University of St Andrews in the UK. “There is a wonderfully straight section and the [etch] turns in one continuous line. That’s not just intentional but careful in what strikes as a very modern way. “

    Through design detection they conclude that what they observed was done “carefully” and intentionally. How is that possible if they don’t know who actually designed it? 🙂

    Apes aren’t doing that. It would be staggering if they did.

    It would be staggering because … apes are the same as humans? No, wait. because … humans can do something that apes can’t? That sounds very species-ist.

    “We cannot look into the mind of the person who made it,” says Joordens.

    Obviously more pseudo-science again … if you can’t tell me about the mind of the maker, then you can’t know if it’s designed, right? 🙂

    Maybe the best inference is “evolution did it”. That works every time. :-;

  5. 5
    gpuccio says:

    Me_Think at #3:

    “I wonder why they took 7 years to confirm that the zigzag line was designed.”

    I wonder how they confirmed that the zigzag line was designed. I suppose they did use CSI or one of its variants.

    “One turned out to be a tool, its sharpened edge probably used for scraping. Many were pierced where the clam’s muscle attaches to the shell. When the team made similar holes in live clams, the damage to the muscle forced them open.”

    That looks like defining a functional specification.

    “It’s very carefully done, says Andrew Whiten, a psychologist and primatologist at the University of St Andrews in the UK. “There is a wonderfully straight section and the [etch] turns in one continuous line. That’s not just intentional but careful in what strikes as a very modern way.”

    That looks like evaluating the complexity.

    “We cannot look into the mind of the person who made it,” says Joordens. But we can speculate. One thing the marks suggest is that half a million years ago, these distant ancestors already had some sense of aesthetics.”

    Here they are making inferences about a designer that we know nothing of, starting from the observed objects.

    “With only a few lines on a single shell, it is impossible to say how unusual the Trinil aesthete was at the time. It’s possible – likely, according to some – that many more etchings were made on materials that did not survive or remain to be found. Or the zigzag could have been the work of a rare early creative mind.”

    Ad hoc assumptions? TTS fallacy? Or just reasonable inferences, and a normal scientific process of design detection?

  6. 6
    Zachriel says:

    gpuccio: Here they are making inferences about a designer that we know nothing of, starting from the observed objects.

    Thought they were attributing it to Homo erectus…

  7. 7
    gpuccio says:

    Zachriel:

    “Thought they were attributing it to Homo erectus”

    And before observing the object, homo erectus was not considered capable of that. My point is simply that we (they) infer properties of the designer from the observed object, even if nothing else supports that inference.

    Which is often regarded as criminal by your side. 🙂

  8. 8
    Zachriel says:

    gpuccio: My point is simply that we (they) infer properties of the designer from the observed object, even if nothing else supports that inference.

    We do that all the time. We might infer motive in a criminal investigation based on the surrounding facts of a case.

    We know a lot about Homo erectus, including that they were highly intelligent apes that could control fire and had the technology to mark shells. The scientists do infer a level of abstraction not previously attributed to Homo erectus, but attributed to some of their close relatives. Notice the link from the presumed artifact to the art and the artisan.

  9. 9
    Box says:

    There is no naturalistic explanation for a deep zigzag pattern into a clam shell. However there is a naturalistic explanation for the existence of life?

  10. 10
    gpuccio says:

    Zachriel:

    And what would you think if the same artifacts, or similar ones, were found on Mars? Would you attribute them to homo erectus too?

    The point is: either the properties of the object allow a design inference, or they don’t.

    If they do, then you choose the further inferences that you consider more likely (with the inevitable cognitive bias implied).

    If they don’t, you simply choose a non design explanation or the point remains undecided.

    Now, the point is: does the zigzag allow a design inference? I don’t know, but those scientists seem rather sure. Nobody has tried to attribute the etchings to water erosion, or simply to the random effect of micro-meteorites (or whatever else).

  11. 11
    Zachriel says:

    gpuccio: Would you attribute them to homo erectus too?

    No. Let us know when you make such a find.

    gpuccio: either the properties of the object allow a design inference, or they don’t.

    Such an inference is necessarily entailed with the designer.

Leave a Reply