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Oldest engraving ever discovered on 500.000-year-old-shell

Posted on 10-12-2014 by Astrid Kromhout

It’s breaking news, the discovery of a fossil shell with a geometrical engraving in our Dubois collection. 

Could it be that an early hominid scratched this in the shell about 500.000 years ago? In that case, it would be the oldest evidence of intelligent behavior ever found.

When they discovered this 7 years ago, the researchers themselves were sceptical as well. They had to discard all possible scenarios one by one. No, the scratches do not have a natural cause. Yes, they are really half a million years old and not younger. And they are probably made with the help of sharks teeth – yes, the researchers have tried this out themselves. And now, after 7 years, it is finally published in Nature. The original shell was temporarily exposed in the museum, and now savely stored in the collectiontower. 

Frank Wesselingh is paleontologist and expert in fossil shells. Archeologist José Joordens of Leiden University leads the research project in which he participated. Frank is very pleased that they can now share their conclusions with the world. Read more about him in the Dutch blog, which also has links to the media coverage.

See the English press release here.


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