More like us than we thought

Maybe life doesn’t change as much as we think.  The body of a man found in a bog in Ireland reveals that 2,300 years ago, men manicured their fingernails, and styled their hair using clips and hair gel.

Similarities may go back further.  A lot lot further.

The German archaeologist, Helmut Ziegert of Hamburg University, thinks there is evidence that members of the species Homo erectus were building dwellings and living in permanent organized societies as long as 400,000 years ago.  Homo erectus is probably an ancient ancestor of ours, living from about 1.6 million to 200,000 years ago.  They lived in Africa, Asia, and parts of Europe. 

Up until now, almost everybody agreed that all human groups were nomadic, and that the only species advanced enough to farm the land and settle into permanent communities was the species to which we belong, Homo sapiens.  Few scientists disputed that the earliest evidence for farming and towns was found in the Middle East and began only about 10,000 years ago. 

The settlements and tools found and examined by Ziegert are in north and east Africa.  Not every scientist thinks the evidence is convincing.  However, Africa has some of the richest deposits of artifacts and fossils dating back many millions of years.  There are probably a lot more theory-shattering artifacts yet to be found.

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About Terry Sissons

Terry Sissons is the author of The Big Bang to Now: All of Time in Six Chunks, and this blog is a dialogue about the universe and what’s happened in the last 13 billions years.
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