A new study has found that the age-old, big-bodied relatives of the modern-day humans were not only dependant on freshwater shellfish for eating purposes but also used their engraved shells as tools.
The findings were made by the researchers based in Java, Indonesia. They have unearthed the engravings on a shell dating back to between 540,000 and 430,000 years.
According to the researchers, the age-old artwork could be the oldest known geometric carving developed by the ancestor of human.
It’s, however, still unclear what the engraving actually means. The research group believes that it could indicate that the ancestor of modern humans, Homo erectus, may have been smarter than it was earlier believed.
Lead study author Josephine Joordens, a postdoctorial researcher of archaeology at Netherlands’ Leiden University, said, “We as humans tend to be a bit species-centric — we think we are so great and they must have been a bit more stupid than us, but I’m not sure. We need to appreciate the capacities of our ancestors a bit more.”
166 shells, which were excavated in Java in the 1890s, were studied by the researchers. These shells are now stored at the Naturalis museum in the Netherlands.
Homo erectus is believed to have used stone tools and the new study provides the first ever evidence that they also used shells as tools.
The study was published online in the journal Nature today.