The world's oldest beads were drilled shells stained with red ochre which date as far back as 110,000 years ago.  Clearly early humans could and did make things not just for their survival, but for adornment. 

Shell is an easy material to drill but stone is another matter. The world's oldest stone bracelet ever found dates back 40,000 years.  It was a cuff bracelet with a hole for a stone charm on a leather string. It was found in a grave of a Denisovan woman in a cave in Siberia. Denisovans are an extinct species of ancient humans. They roamed across Asia all the way to Australia and Melanesia from about 300,000 to 30,000 years ago.  

The Denisovans, Neanderthals and modern humans (Homo sapiens) all share a common ancestor. The Denisovan/Neanderthal line was the first to leave Africa. They split with the Neanderthals occupying Western Eurasia and the Denisovans moved into Asia. 

Map Credit : John D. Croft

Genetic analysis have revealed that the Denisovans, Neanderthals and Homo sapiens (our species) not only co-existed but interbred in the past.  The Neanderthal and Denisovan genes are present in some modern populations including indigenous Australians, Melanesians and Filipino Negritos. 

This video by Ancient Architects show the incredible skill the Denisovans had not only to get the stone, and proceed to carve, polish and drill the bracelet. They also make other items like a bone needle, a marble ring, animal tooth and bone pendants, tools  and a 50, 000 year old headpiece made from wooly mammoth ivory!

Screen capture from video

This goes to show what we achieve today was a steady progression of skills and tools developed over a long, long time. 

How did these ancients drill holes when they had no metal tools?  Watch Australian hobbyist, Primitive Technology's video on how he made cord and pump drills with simple materials. It is one of the ways prehistoric people also made fire.  Stone would take a lot longer to drill than wood so that Denisovan bracelet is an impressive example of ingenuity, creativity and dogged patience.

The fantastic American Museum of Natural History's Seven Million Years of Human Evolution video shows the migration - from moving out of Africa to branching all over the world. A popular misconception is humans being "descended from the great apes" - we are not. We share a common and very distant ancestor.

I can never understand racists because if we go back far enough, all of us are of African origin. Adaptation to local conditions ensured survival. Those who stayed in very sunny locations developed increased melanin to protect their skins while those who moved to northern climes with weak sunlight had less skin pigments in order to make Vitamin D which is crucial for health. There are few good food sources for Vitamin D. 

Overall, there is not much variation in the DNA of one person to another. There are therefore no races but one race, the human race or species, Homo sapiens.

Recommended Book for Bookworms
 Fossil Men  by Kermit Pattinson

A gripping account of the terrible dangers paleoanthropologists face doing field work in hostile places to collect specimens and also the fierce academic debate on key findings.  

A decade in the making, Fossil Men is a scientific detective story played out in anatomy and the natural history of the human body: the first full-length account of the discovery of a startlingly unpredicted human ancestor more than a million years older than Lucy.

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM