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Nature: Homo erectus used shells for tool production, engraving, half a million years ago

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Well, he had to start somewhere, didn’t he?

Here’s the abstract:

The manufacture of geometric engravings is generally interpreted as indicative of modern cognition and behaviour1. Key questions in the debate on the origin of such behaviour are whether this innovation is restricted to Homo sapiens, and whether it has a uniquely African origin1. Here we report on a fossil freshwater shell assemblage from the Hauptknochenschicht (‘main bone layer’) of Trinil (Java, Indonesia), the type locality of Homo erectus discovered by Eugène Dubois in 1891 (refs 2 and 3). In the Dubois collection (in the Naturalis museum, Leiden, The Netherlands) we found evidence for freshwater shellfish consumption by hominins, one unambiguous shell tool, and a shell with a geometric engraving. We dated sediment contained in the shells with 40Ar/39Ar and luminescence dating methods, obtaining a maximum age of 0.54 ± 0.10 million years and a minimum age of 0.43 ± 0.05 million years. This implies that the Trinil Hauptknochenschicht is younger than previously estimated. Together, our data indicate that the engraving was made by Homo erectus, and that it is considerably older than the oldest geometric engravings described so far4, 5. Although it is at present not possible to assess the function or meaning of the engraved shell, this discovery suggests that engraving abstract patterns was in the realm of Asian Homo erectus cognition and neuromotor control. (paywall)

The more we learn about human evolution, the more it will become like a history. That’s not good news for those who engage in grand speculations about the ascent of man.

See also: Human evolution broke the mold but the science media was too busy reporting on the bust mold.

File under: But Michael Cremo is still wrong, remember?

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6 Replies to “Nature: Homo erectus used shells for tool production, engraving, half a million years ago

  1. 1
    awstar says:

    Casey Luskin over at http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....93641.html points out.

    In fact the researchers discovered this by making a design inference. The shell’s faintly visible “zig zag” pattern (pictured above) triggered the inference to intelligent design. The authors believe the marks could not be the product of natural erosion, and were produced by Homo erectus:

    That’s a pretty handy capability to be able to make a design inference. I wonder what else it could be used for?

  2. 2
    ppolish says:

    So how far back was the first sin? How far back was the first law broken? Assuming chimps are Atheists, how far back to the first Theists?

  3. 3
    velikovskys says:

    In fact the researchers discovered this by making a design inference. The shell’s faintly visible “zig zag” pattern (pictured above) triggered the inference to intelligent design. The authors believe the marks could not be the product of natural erosion, and were produced by Homo erectus:

    A how and a who and a what and a when.

  4. 4
    Joe says:

    LoL! They don’t know HE did it. They don’t know when and they don’t know how.

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    > Homo erectus used shells for tool production, engraving, half a million years ago.

    Sort of puts the lie to young earth creationism, doesn’t it.

  6. 6
    awstar says:

    Mung #5

    Homo erectus used shells for tool production, engraving, half a million years ago.

    Sort of puts the lie to young earth creationism, doesn’t it.

    If the Homo erectus who scribed the shell did something that only Homo sapiens do, then isn’t the assumption of “half a million years ago” the problem? They didn’t Carbon-14 date the shell by any chance, did they?

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