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.

  • Obbop

    Wouldn’t it be more fun to engage in the social grooming many (all?) primates engage in to encourage group cohesion and bonding and as a possible precursor to coitus that was assuredly constantly needed to continue the species whose lives were short and with high death rates at an early age?

    Toss in the predation by carnivores and those early humans assuredly had to fornicate frequently akin to levels seen in the barrios of the USA.

  • Anita

    Obbop: You misuse “fornicate.”

  • Foxinwinter

    How do they know it’s a bed?

  • Geack

    @1. Social grooming doesn’t prevent mosquito bites, and it can only lessen but not eliminate flea bites. Plus, humans have lived with fleas for most of our history (google comments about flea-sharing in elizabethan England) and we never really developed widespread social-grooming customs, so maybe it’s just not in us. And finally, your casual racism didn’t go unnoticed.

  • Obbop

    “your casual racism didn’t go unnoticed.”

    Your PC brainwashing/indoctrination is obvious.

    Such a shame.


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