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From Live Science:
Archaeologists have discovered the oldest evidence yet of a wooden structure crafted by the hands of a human ancestor. Two tree trunks, notched like Lincoln Logs, were preserved at the bottom of the Kalambo River in Zambia. If the logs' estimated 476,000-year-old age is correct, it means that woodworking might predate the emergence of our own species, Homo sapiens, and highlights the intelligence of our hominin ancestors.
. . .
Through luminescence dating of sand samples from the site, which involves measuring how long ago the sand grains were exposed to light, Barham and his colleagues found three clusters: a cut log and a tapered piece of wood dating to 324,000 years ago; a digging stick dating to 390,000 years ago; and a wooden wedge and two overlapping logs dating to 476,000 years ago.
Wooden artifacts this old are hard to find because wood decays. Most of what we know about the industries of our prehistoric ancestors comes from tools made of stone, a material which is pretty much indestructible under most processes that occur near the surface of the Earth. In order to preserve wood for spans of hundreds of thousands of years, chance must provide a special sort of environment that prevents its decay. In this case, the wood was preserved by being waterlogged.
Wooden artifacts and tools dating back 400,000 years have been found at other sites in Europe and Asia, but this is the first time anyone has found, pre-Homo sapiens, two notched logs mated to each other, clearly as part of what must have been a larger structure, possibly a platform or a house. To understand that such notching would improve the structural integrity of the building, the prehistoric hominins that constructed it had to be smarter than anyone previously expected.
The appearance of modern humans is dated to about 300,000 years ago, which means that this structure was not by creatures like us, but either a species ancestral to modern humans, or a related species that died out. Pre-modern hominins were thought to be nomadic foragers with little need for technology; evidence that these hominins built a permanent structure challenges that picture.
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Mercy Ormont started it off, and FishOutofWater 's reply turned up the amp to 11. From daylin's very most excellent diary Our Rapidly Disappearing Supreme Court.
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This comment by bilge in Stwriley’s recommended post on NFTs achieving worthlessness.
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