Scientists Find the Oldest Known Sleeping Mats, Laced With Insect-Repelling Leaves

By Valerie Ross | December 9, 2011 2:59 pm


Remnants of a Cryptocarya woodii leaf, which researchers
say was part of the oldest bedding ever found

In a South African cave, researchers have uncovered traces of the oldest known human bedding, 77,000-year-old mats made of grasses, leaves, and other plant material. While it’s not especially surprising that early humans would have found a way to improve the cold, generally unpleasant experience of sleeping on a cave floor, archaeologists know little about our ancestors’ sleeping habits and habitats.

Using scanning electron microscopy, the researchers identified several species of local rushes and grasses that made up the bulk of the mattress, as well as leaves of the Cryptocarya woodii tree. These leaves contain chemical compounds that repel mosquitoes, lice, and other insects, suggesting that the cave’s ancient residents protected their bedding with natural insecticide.

Read more at ScienceNOW.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Human Origins
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