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Wed Aug 24, 2016, 11:15 PM

World's oldest needle found in Siberian cave that stitches together human history

World's oldest needle found in Siberian cave that stitches together human history


By The Siberian Times reporter

23 August 2016

'Sensational' discovery in Denisova Cave is at least 50,000 years old BUT it wasn't made by Homo sapiens.




The 7 centimetre (2 3/4 inch) needle was made and used by our long extinct Denisovan ancestors, a recently-discovered hominin species or subspecies.

Scientists found the sewing implement - complete with a hole for thread - during the annual summer archeological dig at an Altai Mountains cave widely believed to hold the secrets of man's origins. It appears to be still useable after 50,000 years.

Professor Mikhail Shunkov, head of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, said: 'It is the most unique find of this season, which can even be called sensational.

'It is a needle made of bone. As of today it is the most ancient needle in the word. It is about 50,000 years old.'

The needle is seen as providing proof that the long-gone Denisovans - named after the cave - were more sophisticated than previously believed. It predates by some 10,000 years an intricate modern-looking piece of polished jewellery made of chlorite by the Denisovans.


More:
http://siberiantimes.com/science/casestudy/news/n0711-worlds-oldest-needle-found-in-siberian-cave-that-stitches-together-human-history/

16 replies, 1727 views

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 24, 2016, 11:41 PM

1. Don't think it's time to stop labeling different groups of ancient people hominids?

Honestly, everyone interbred and the now extinct groups seem to be just as human as we are. It's like considering different races as more or less intelligent, an ethnic slur rather than a legitimate description.

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Response to hedda_foil (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 25, 2016, 12:30 AM

4. Notice the term 'hominin' (not hominid) in the article ?

The term hominid describes a much broader grouping, and in fact, the Denisovans belong to the genus Homo, making them even closer relatives than the other hominins within the family of hominids:

Homo is the genus that comprises the species Homo sapiens, which includes modern humans, as well as several extinct species classified as ancestral to or closely related to modern humans—as for examples Homo habilis and Homo neanderthalensis ...

Taxonomically, Homo is the only genus assigned to the subtribe Hominina which, with the subtribes Australopithecina and Panina, comprise the tribe Hominini (see evolutionary tree below). All species of the genus Homo plus those species of the australopithecines that arose after the split from Pan are called hominins.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo


(I believe that should be "is comprised of ..."

All such speciations are subject to revision, and there has been *much* revision in the last few decades. This is due not just to new fossil discoveries but to new methods (such as fossil DNA sequencing) and new approaches to taxonomic classification, including cladistics (which seems new to nonspecialists but has been around awhile).

Strictly, the Denisovans could be referred to as "hominids" in the same way they could be referred to as "vertebrates" or "mammals" -- they do belong to both those very large groups, but the smallest group which includes organisms other than themselves is the genus Homo. Strictly speaking, we could refer to them as "homs", I suppose, but that would be synonymous with "humans" and so redundant.

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Response to hedda_foil (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 25, 2016, 02:09 AM

6. Yes, Out-of-Africa model is inadequate and multi-regional gene pools was scenario

 

with very little gene exchange for long spells. Then, post-Toba, a refugia gene pool is demographically dominant due to sheer numbers and those characteristics disperse across the whole gene pool. But we retain some genes from before fully modern characteristics dominate, indicating we have always been one species capable of reproduction across all the regional gene pools.

Just like we know there is no such thing as races, we should also be capable of surmising that the variations in the past were not distinct species or races, just locally dominant characteristics of H. sapiens (if that remains our name after taxonomic correction).

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Response to Coyotl (Reply #6)

Thu Aug 25, 2016, 09:34 AM

9. Yes. Exactly.

Thanks, Coyotl

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Response to hedda_foil (Reply #9)

Thu Aug 25, 2016, 11:54 AM

12. And that is from my anthro and archaeo education quite a while ago.

 

Paradigm shifts can be excruciatingly late in comparison to the obvious data, and then it takes forever for pop culture to catch up too. People still depict Neanderthals as brutish and don't realize the racial pride is nothing more that boasting about your inbreeding.

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Response to Coyotl (Reply #12)

Fri Aug 26, 2016, 02:00 AM

13. Actually, I've read that white skin was a Neanderthal trait!

They were adapted to cold weather climate during the last ice age.

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Response to Coyotl (Reply #6)

Wed Aug 31, 2016, 09:01 PM

16. Modern humans and Neanderthals are both thought to be direct descendants of Homo erectus (IIRC).

And they were once considered subspecies of Homo sapiens, but are now generally divided into two different species. Regardless, interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans was extensive, to the point that people of Eurasian descent may have as much as 5-10% Neanderthal DNA.

As this example shows, the distinction between different species (or subspecies) is often an arbitrary one. Earlier hominids like Homo habilis and Homo erectus were clearly very different from us, with smaller brains and a more "ape-like" physiology. But the Neanderthals and Denisovans were, at the least, genetically similar enough to us to allow for interbreeding - whether or not we consider them as separate species to our own.

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Response to hedda_foil (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 25, 2016, 02:21 AM

7. Neanderthals had the capability of learning to drive....

 

See?

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Response to Spitfire of ATJ (Reply #7)

Sun Aug 28, 2016, 06:10 PM

15. Really fond of their tall trucks, too. n/t

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Aug 24, 2016, 11:44 PM

2. Amazing

I always love it when new (old) things are discovered. Thanks for posting this.

Peace

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Aug 25, 2016, 12:14 AM

3. That needle is elegant. n/t

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Aug 25, 2016, 01:28 AM

5. There's indirect evidence of textiles going back tens of thousands of years

Any hominin moving out of a warm, wet climate in Africa was going to have to know how to make clothing that didn't fall off at the worst times during hunting and gathering, so skins and sinew would have been the first likely clothing for the more ancient species.

The indirect evidence that homo-sap-sap had been weaving and twining plant fibers for some time consists of plain weave and twined textile impressions decorating clay plus some of the so called Venus figurines sporting woven and/or sewn headdresses and simple clothing. Woven clothing would have been a step up since it was far lighter than that made of animal skins.

This needle doesn't surprise me in the least. Clothing sewn to fit with sinew for thread would have worked a lot better than trying to use larger sinew to tie a skin around one's waist. It probably wasn't terribly elaborate. It just didn't have to fall off every time somebody threw a spear or set a basket down.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Aug 25, 2016, 09:23 AM

8. I would really love to know how they made the hole in the needle. nt

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Response to Javaman (Reply #8)

Thu Aug 25, 2016, 10:20 AM

10. First, use a flint or obsidian point to drill a hole in a bone ...

then cut away the bone to leave a needle.

Ask any woodworker to drill a 1/2" hole in 5/8" stock and he'll tell you -- start with 1" stock.

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #10)

Thu Aug 25, 2016, 10:57 AM

11. interesting and clever. Thanks! nt

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #10)

Sun Aug 28, 2016, 06:09 PM

14. Thanks for your answer. I really wondered about it, had no idea. n/t

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