Who invented and why wear?

“Gender-neutrality is the default setting associated with the source of clothing.” – Male Eri

Hominid Evolution Timeline

Photo: ScienceMe

Clothing: The object (s) are used to cover the body.

Clothing: A survival response to the evolutionary loss of fur?

The fossils of Australopithecus afarensis Lucy, 3.2 million years ago, show that he could walk straight on two legs and be covered in fur. About 2 million / 2 million years ago, hominids increasingly settled in the grasslands where they began to hunt and eat more meat. The hominids also lost their body hair during this time to sweat more and survive the bright heat of the sun.[1] It is possible that early hominids covered themselves with animal fur / skin / feathers (a by-product of their diet) to compensate for the evolutionary loss of hair – especially to survive harsh environmental conditions. Early hominids who invented clothing probably did not wear clothing all the time but only covered it with animal skin in extreme weather.

The evolutionary role of Homo erectus in the origin of clothing:

Although Australopithecus hominids was the first to use the stone tool, a study from Columbia University found that Homo erectus, which appeared about 2 million years ago, was one of the first hominids to create master technologies such as the hand-X weapon and the controlled use of fire.[2]

Homo erectus oral forensic reconstruction

W. Snowbelt and Ann Keiser (Atelier Wildlife Art), Photo: WikiCommons Forensic Reconstruction Homo eruktas Skull

Homo erectus is not only considered to be the first hominids living in a hunter-gatherer society, but also one of the first to migrate in waves from Africa to Eurasia.[3] – Both play an important role in the evolutionary development of clothing. Living for more than a million years, Homo erectus is probably the longest-lived species of Homo, and split into subspecies about 500,000 years ago – especially the common ancestor of both Homo heidelbergensis, Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, who first appeared in Africa and Eurasia. 3,00,000-2,00,000 years ago.

Homo sapiens wore clothing 83,000-1,70,000 years ago.

It is unrealistic to determine the exact origin of clothing with mere archaeological evidence because the materials of early clothing (animal skin and fur) are not fossils like bones or stand the test of time like other prehistoric remains. University of Florida-based research has studied the origins of clothing lice up to the date of the origin of clothing – since clothing lice evolved from the ancestor of the head lice shortly after human clothing was adopted. Studies have estimated that clothing lice were isolated from the head lice at least 83,000 years ago and probably 170,000 years ago – the first known estimate of clothing worn by Homo sapiens.[4]

Thermal model of garment origin:

Survival requirements such as thermal protection seem to be the primary purpose of clothing in Ice Age conditions that began 2.5 million years ago and lasted until 11,700 years ago. It is likely that only those hominids who survived the evolutionary experiments in cold Pleistocene climate adequately, and it can be remarked with certainty that Homo sapiens wore regular clothing to stay warm after first exposure to such harsh ice age conditions. . Understanding the evolution of clothing lice suggests from the date of birth of clothing that Homo sapiens wore clothing at least 70,000-40,000 years before they migrated from Africa to cold latitudes.

Body Art and Modification: Proto-Clothing?

Some forms of body art and variations of early hominids include:

  • Apply color / cosmetics on the body.
  • Creating visible patterns / images on the body for purely aesthetic or symbolic purposes.
  • Temporary / permanent changes in the body in the form of pores etc.
  • Wearing 2D / 3D objects such as shells, animal teeth, feathers and beads on the body for functional and / or aesthetic purposes.
Body art and decoration of early hominids

Evolution of body art and antiquities used by early hominids. Photo: Gillian M. Morris

African hominids used purple pigment by 2,00,000BP – almost the same period as the initial red purple use in Neanderthal records.[5] H. Sapiens Kibish, Ethiopia used beads on 195,000 BP.[6] The practice of piercing teeth, shells and bones and making them individually or by folding to form a pendant or necklace is the oldest known form of personal decoration after body painting.[7] The discovery of cut, colored and knotted flax fibers from a series of high Paleolithic layers in the Djudjuana Cave in the foothills of the Caucasus, Georgia, indicates that prehistoric hunter-gatherers created a skill for arrogance, ornamentation and other symbolic interplay. 30,000 years ago.[8] It is possible that some hominids replaced the body ornaments with clothing after the migration and exposure to cold weather.

Combining multiple needs / demands leading to the origin of clothing:

Some evolutionary purpose of clothing in the pyramid of Maslow's demand and want-power.

Explain some of the evolutionary purposes of clothing with the pyramid of Maslow’s demand and demand sequence.

The fact that nudity remains an accepted norm in many hunter-gatherer cultures of the modern world claims that clothing itself is not essential for survival – at least not for everyone. In the vast timeline of the early hominids spanning millions of years, different groups of hominids in different parts of the world, from Africa to Eurasia, invented clothing more than once. For example, Neanderthals living in Europe may invent clothing (probably earlier) on a different timeline than Homo sapiens. In contrast to the warmer tropical climate of Africa where Homo sapiens survived most of their evolutionary history, Neanderthals lived in cool European conditions and wore thick fur clothing that provided thermal protection which was crucial for survival.[9]

Neanderthal clothing

Homo neanderthalnsis soft tissue reconstruction of men and children, Museum of Natural History, Vienna (Austria) Image: WikiCommons

The role of clothing in the evolutionary success of Homo sapiens compared to other hominids:

Homo sapiens joined Neanderthals in Europe 42,000 years ago where they co-existed for about 2000-5000 years. Unlike Neanderthals, whose short and stocky bodies adapted well to the cold weather of Europe, Homo sapiens had a weak body, which made them more vulnerable to cold. A comparative study between the clothing of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens concluded that Neanderthals cover 70-80% of their body whereas clothing of Homo sapiens is 90%.[10] The disparity in body coverage stems from the fact that Neanderthals adapted well to the cold where Homo sapiens were forced to cover more. Denisovan Hominids, who coexisted with Neanderthals and Homo sapiens in Europe, is credited with using the world’s oldest surviving sewing-needle which is almost. 50,000 years old.[11] About 30,000 years ago, Homo sapiens made better tools like blades, improved the technology of Neanderthals / Denisovans and sewed tight-fitting garments to make up for their biological defects.[12] – This technological advancement in clothing has probably enabled more protective clothing than Neanderthals and is the key to the evolutionary success of Homo sapiens compared to other Neanderthals. Even if insufficient insulation is not the cause of Neanderthals ‘extinction, Homo sapiens’ more advanced and thermally efficient clothing is probably part of the adaptive package that helped them out compared to other ancient hominids.[13]


  1. Alan R. Rogers, David Iltis, and Stephen Wooding, “Genetic Diversity in the MC1R Locus and the Time of Human Hair Loss,” Current Anthropology 45, no. 1 (February 2004): 105-108
  2. Earth-shaped stone axis 1.8 million years ago, research says, Earth Institute, (2011-09-01)
  3. Age of 20 m Solo River Terrace, Survival of Homo erectus in Java, Indonesia and Asia, June 29, 2011
  4. Melissa A. Tupes, Andrew Kitchen, Jessica E. Light, David L. Reed, The Origin of Clothing Lies Indicates the Use of Early Clothing by Physiological Modern Humans in Africa, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Volume 28, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 29–32
  5. Red ocher use by Will Roybrooks, Mark J. Sear, Trin Kelberg Nielsen, Dimitri de Locker, Josep Maria Perez, Charles ES Arps, and Hermann J. Mucher, PNAS, February 7, 2012
  6. [ পাবমেড ]McDougall I, Brown FH, Flagel JG, Nature. February 2005
  7. The Evolution of Human Artistic Creativity by Gillian M. Morris KJ Anat. February 2010; 216 (2): 158-176
  8. 30,000-Year-Old Wild Flax Fiber, Science 11 September 2009: Vol. 325, No. 5946, p. 1359
  9. Evidence for the differences in clothing use between Neanderthals and early modern Europeans, Journal of Anthropological Archeology, Volume 44, Part B, December 2016, pp. 235-246
  10. Modeling Neanderthal Clothing Using Ethnic Analog by Nathan Wells, Journal of Human Evolution, Volume 63, Issue 6, December 2012, pp. 781-795
  11. The oldest needle in the world has been found in a cave in Siberia that combines human history, Serbian Times
  12. Neanderthal Extinction and Modern Human Behavior: Climate Change and the Role of Clothing Ian Giligan, World Archeology, Vol. 39, No. 4, “World Archeology” (December, 2007), p. Debate at 499-514
  13. Replacement of modern human clothing and Neanderthals by Leah Tarley

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