Humans first covered their nakedness 170,000 years ago

January 7th, 2011 - 6:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 7 (IANS) A research suggests that humans first covered their nakedness some 170,000 years ago, something which helped them move out of Africa. Research by David Reed, investigator at Florida University, shows modern humans started wearing clothes about 70,000 years before migrating into colder climates and higher latitudes, which began about 100,000 years ago.

“We know that body lice or clothing lice almost certainly didn’t exist until clothing came about in humans,” said Florida University investigator David Reed, reports the journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Reed, also associate curator of mammals at Florida, used DNA sequencing in his five-year study to calculate when clothing lice first began to diverge genetically from human head lice, according to a Florida statement.

This date would be virtually impossible to determine using archaeological data because early clothing would not survive in archaeological sites.

“We wanted to find another method for pinpointing when humans might have first started wearing clothing,” said Reed.

The study also shows how humans started wearing clothes well after they lost body hair, which research pinpoints at about one million years ago, meaning they spent a considerable time without body hair and without clothing, Reed said.

“Applying unique data sets from lice to human evolution has only developed within the last 20 years, and provides information that could be used in medicine, evolutionary biology, ecology or any number of fields,” Reed said.

A study of clothing lice in 2003 led by Mark Stoneking, geneticist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, estimated that humans first began wearing clothes about 107,000 years ago.

But Reed’s research includes new data and calculation methods better suited for the question.

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