Friday, June 26, 2009


One of our most appealing and persistent myths is that of the Golden Age, a time before the discovery of good and evil, when death and disease were unknown.

But scientific evidence – meager fragmentary and tantalizing though it often is – proves that disease is older than the human race.

Thus, understanding the pattern of disease and injury that afflicted our earliest ancestors requires the perspective of the paleopathologist.

Si Marc Armand Ruffer (1859-1917), one of the founders of paleopathology, defined it as the science o the disease that can be demonstrated in human and animal remains of ancient times.

Evidence form the study of fossils, stratigraphy, and molecular biology suggest that separation of the human line from that of the apes place in Africa some 5 million years ago.

It took several million years before large-brained, tool making modern human beings evolved.

Homo sapiens sapiens, the oldest human beings of morphologically modern character, appeared approximately 50,000 years ago.

The Paleolithic Era, or Old Stone Age, when the most important steps in cultural evolution occurred, coincides with geological epoch known as the Pleistocene, or Great Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago with the last retreat of the glaciers.

Early humans were hunter gatherers, that are opportunistic omnivores, who learned to make tools, build shelters carry and share food and create uniquely human social structures.

Although Paleolithic technology is characterized by the manufacture of crude tools made of bone and chipped stones and the absence of pottery and metal objects, the people of this era produced the dramatic cave painting at Lascaux, France and Altamira, Spain.

Presumably, they also produced useful inventions that were fully biodegradable and left no traces in the fossil record.

Indeed, during the 19603 feminist challenged prevailing about the importance of hunting as a source of food among gatherers; the vegetables an small animals gathered by women probably constituted the more reliable component of the Paleolithic diet.

Moreover because women were often burdened by carrying infants, they probably invented disposable digging sticks and biodegradable bags or basket in which to carry and store food.

The most popular articles

Selected Articles