Jewellery, kitchens and workshops existed much before modern humans arrived

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Washington, May 3 (ANI): While special abilities like symbolic art, abstract thinking, and highly organized societies might make us pretty special, evidence has proved that these traits of modern human behaviour may have existed in earlier hominids too.

In Spanish caves once occupied by Neanderthals, archaeologist Joao Zilhao of the University of Bristol unearthed punctured scallop shells crusted with mineral pigments, which was actually Neanderthal jewellery.

Painted with reds and yellows, the shells may have been worn as pendants, perhaps conveying social information about the wearer to other members of the group.

"It's like putting on your Yankees cap when you go to the stadium so people know who you are," Discover Magazine quoted Zilhao as saying.

Body ornaments had been found at Neanderthal camps before, but they dated to near the period when Neanderthals shared Europe with modern humans.

This led some archaeologists to suggest that Neanderthals just mindlessly copied ornaments they saw on their Cro-Magnon neighbours.

However, most of the relics found by Zilhao date to 50,000 years ago, 10,000 years before the first modern humans arrived.

The Neanderthals can finally get clear credit for their artistry, he said.

In fact, a 790,000-year-old hominid settlement in northern Israel, excavated by archaeologists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, appears to have been divided into distinct functional spaces, with a hearthside food preparation area and a spot dedicated to flint tool making.

Researchers had thought that only Homo sapiens had such well-configured living spaces.

Now it seems that far earlier humans kept orderly homes. (ANI)

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