A cache of gorgeous crystals collected 105,000 years in the past in South Africa is shedding new mild on the emergence of advanced behaviours in our species.
A crew led by Jayne Wilkins at Griffith College, Australia, found 22 distinctively formed white calcite crystals at a web site within the Kalahari desert known as Ga-Mohana Hill North Rockshelter. “They’re little rhomboids, actually visually hanging,” says Wilkins.
These geometric crystals didn’t originate on the web site and haven’t been modified, so appear to have been intentionally collected and delivered to the rock shelter for decorative functions. “They don’t appear to have been used for on a regular basis duties,” she says.
The gathering of gorgeous gadgets looks as if a standard factor for people to do immediately, however this so-called symbolic behaviour solely emerged round 100,000 years in the past. “Gathering these sorts of fairly objects for non-utilitarian causes may have its roots in symbolism and humanities and tradition,” says Wilkins.
Additionally discovered on the web site have been 42 fragments of burnt ostrich egg shell. The massive egg shells might have been utilized by people to retailer and transport water – providing extra proof of human innovation.
These discoveries within the Kalahari, 600 kilometres from the ocean, are difficult the prevailing assumption that the emergence of advanced behaviours like symbolism and technological innovation emerged on the coast, the place people had entry to seafood containing nutrients thought to support brain growth.
Till now, the earliest proof of symbolic behaviour was discovered at websites near the ocean, corresponding to 100,000-year-old engraved ochre from Blombos cave and 60,000-year-old adorned ostrich egg shells from the Diepkloof rock shelter, each on the South African coast.
“Within the Kalahari, which is absolutely removed from the coast, we’re seeing the identical sorts of behaviours, on the identical time,” says Wilkins.
Journal reference: Nature, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03419-0
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