January 8, 2011

What Was The iPhone Of 170,000 Years Ago?

What was the iPhone of 170,000 years ago? A life-transforming product that benefits every human being.

Well, perhaps iPhone is not at that level, it is only industry-transforming. But what was that life-transforming product 170,000 years ago?

About 170,000 years ago it was Cloth – a life-transforming product that benefited every human being and continues to be in use today. In terms of impact, it ranks high up there along with fire and the wheel.

While humans were able to survive in the warm weather of Africa for thousands of years, it was only with clothing that they were able to start migrating to Europe and Asia. Clothing provided protection and much later it spawned the fashion industry.

A University of Florida study determined the advent of clothing by studying the genome of clothing lice and comparing it to human head lice. The DNA sequencing by the researchers  shows that DNA for the two lice started diverging about 170,000 years ago, with the clothing lice adapting to clothes that had started to become available. Studying human parasites is an interesting way to learn about and infer human evolution.

For reference, modern humans are thought to have appeared about 200,000 years ago while humans appeared about a million years ago.