Shellfish remains reveal prehistory

29 October 2007

New research shows that early humans displayed key elements of modern behaviour as far back as 165 000 years ago at Pinnacle Point along the Garden Route.

Before this, the earliest evidence for human use of marine resources and coastal habitats was dated to 125 000 years ago.

Dr Antonieta Jerardino, an honorary research associate in the Department of Archaeology, is one of two South African authors of the article, Early Human Use of Marine Resources and Pigment in South Africa during the Middle Pleistocene, that describes the find in the October issue of the scientific journal Nature.

Jerardino did the analysis of the shellfish remains found at the site.

“Shellfish may have been crucial to the survival of these early humans as they expanded their home ranges to include coastlines and followed the shifting position of the coast when sea level fluctuated,” the article says.

The site at Pinnacle Point provides a rare glimpse into human adaptation to coastal conditions.

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