Image: A mussel shell engraved by Homo erectus between 540,000 and 430,000 years ago
Credit: Wim Lustenhouwer, VU University Amsterdam
Source: Kate Wong’s World’s Oldest Engraving Upends Theory of Homo sapiens Uniqueness on Observations
These scratches may not look like much but they predate the existence of our species, Homo sapiens, and upend any claim we have on symbolic thought, a requirement for language development. Up until this discovery, the earliest evidence of symbolic thought (as indicated by archaeological finds like cave paintings and jewelry) was well known from 40,000 year-old sites in Europe and a few exciting finds elsewhere that may push that date back to 75,000 years. But this modest mussel shell blows those dates out of the water, making it impossible that Homo sapiens created it. Rather, it comes from a Homo erectus site in Indonesia dated to between 540,000 and 430,000 years ago. Read more about this remarkable find in Kate Wong’s World’s Oldest Engraving Upends Theory of Homo sapiens Uniqueness.