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Discovery

Seafood Makes Waves: Humans Leave Home

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Photo of cave opening

Cave 13B is one of several caves overlooking the Indian Ocean along the coastline of Pinnacle Point, a sea cliff on the south coast of South Africa. Researchers here uncovered evidence of early human use of shellfish and other marine resources dating to the Middle Pleistocene. The cave is the focus of intense excavation work and has been since 2000.

Credit: South African Coast Paleoclimate, Paleoenvironment, Paleoecology, Paleoanthropology Project (SACP4), Arizona State University, Director - Curtis W. Marean


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Photo of whale barnacle

How do scientists know a whale was eaten here? Whale bones typically are too large for people to carry long distances to archaeological sites. Early humans carried only the skin and blubber. Turns out there are barnacle species that only live on the skin of whales. When people scavenged a beached whale and ate it, all that remained was the barnacle as a sign that says, "a whale was eaten here 164,000 years ago!"

Credit: South African Coast Paleoclimate, Paleoenvironment, Paleoecology, Paleoanthropology Project (SACP4), Arizona State University, Director - Curtis W. Marean


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Photo of showing pigment colored rock

Researchers found 57 pieces of pigment or substances used as coloring agents in a cave along the Pinnacle Point cliff face near Mossel Bay, South Africa. Most of the pigments have a pinkish-brown or reddish-brown surface color and are estimated to be about 164,000 years old.

Credit: South African Coast Paleoclimate, Paleoenvironment, Paleoecology, Paleoanthropology Project (SACP4), Arizona State University, Director - Curtis W. Marean


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