33,000 year old ostrich eggs give clues to prehistoric 'social media'

Humans are extremely social creatures and with the popularity of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter it is not surprising that even in the prehistoric age, humans had a way of boasting about their social connections.

A team of researchers went to the Lesotho Highlands and discovered 33,000-year-old ostrich egg beads about 1,000km from where the Ostriches actually roamed. Anthropologists have used the beads to uncover an ancient social networking practise.

Palaeolithic archaeologist Brian Stewart from the University of Michigan published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, where he discovered that 33,000 years ago Hunter-gatherers would eat ostrich eggs. The eggshells were then fashioned into beads that they would parade around on their necks on necklaces. But, the beads ended up travelling quite far.

Much in the way we befriend someone on Facebook or religiously like our friend's posts even if they're terrible, our stone-age ancestors exchanged ostrich egg beads and attached them to their animal sinew necklaces to boast of their social connections. Stewart stated:

“humans are just outlandishly social animals, and that goes back to these deep forces that selected for maximizing information, information that would have been useful for living in a hunter-gatherer society 30,000 years ago and earlier.”

Researchers discovered that although there were beads, 80% of them contained no evidence of being constructed in the Lethoso Highlands. Tracking the origin of the social currency, the researchers found that they contained material that matched other sediments located about 1,000km away.

Stewart claims that these beads would have gained popularity about 50,000 years ago, during a climactic upheaval where the beads could have been used to communicate the locations of natural resources, animals, plants and even to find marriage partners

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