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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Louse TMRCA provides estimate for human clothing

Research on age estimates for the evolutionary divergence of head and body lice suggest that clothing was already in use when humans left Africa.

Melissa A. Topus, Origin of clothing lice indicates early clothing use by anatomically modern humans in Africa. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2010. Open access.

The following graphic synthesizes the paper very well:

However it must be said that there are other alternative dates jumping around in the paper. For example the 95% CI estimate for head/clothes louse divergence is 29-691 Ka ago, the mean is 229 Ka and the mode just 83 Ka. So 170 Ka is just a reasonable good hunch, considering always their methods.

Also a much older date is suggested by a single author for hair loss: 3 million years ago. This however would have forced Homo erectus in Asia to make their own clothing, of which we have no evidence so far. Interestingly, the 1.2 Ka figure would allow our Neanderthal cousins to be hairy, a rather convenient biological equipment in Ice Age Europe, provided that the long chronology for Neanderthal-Sapiens divergence is correct (Gómez defends 1.3 million years, a date with strong, and growing, archaeological support).

1 comment:

david_dvdson said...
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