Prehumans May Have Created Art
We know that our prehuman ancestors were like modern humans in many ways. They had similar social structures, omnivorous diets, and rudimentary toolmaking ability. However, there is one area of development that human beings believed set them apart from all of their ancestors: art. Artistic inventiveness was thought to be a uniquely human trait, but in 2007 a graduate student made an observation that could change how we look at our forebears. This story was shared with me by Dr. Daniel Amen.
The shell was found at a site that researchers believe is around 500,000 years old. The pattern in question is a zigzag along the top of the shell, which was created with a shark tooth. Homo Erectus was known to use the teeth to open the shells. Researchers have been skeptical of the findings. They first suspected that the etchings might be a hoax pulled off by a bored graduate student. The researchers recreated the etchings by carving a similar shell with a shark’s tooth. They found that, when examined with a microscope, the grooves of the newly carved shells were rough. The grooves of the ancient shells were smooth, because of weathering. However, it is interesting to imagine our prehuman ancestors creating art.