|MadSci Network: Evolution|
Steven: According to Dr. Richard Klein (Stanford University), the first evidence of tailored clothing, including the first appearance of bone needles, comes from European Cro-Magnon (Homo sapiens) archaeological sites dated to slightly less than 50,000 years ago. By 35-40,000 years ago, Cro-Magnon graves at some sites show evidence of what is obviously traces of clothing around skeletons. As far as the justification for the first clothing, I think it could be safely assumed that the initial goal was warmth, not style or modesty. And I would guess that the first winter clothing would have been worn over the shoulders, not around the waist (try it and see which keeps you warmer!). Specific to your question, I don't believe that any palaeolithic loin cloths have been found, and I'm sure that their use on homonid mannequins is an artifact of modern modesty. For the most part, however, I think museums have updated their displays to include unabashed homonid nudity(!), or at least, homonids in "discrete" poses. I suppose that the museum staff would like to keep the grade-schoolers questions focused on other issues... Hope this helped! Daniel R. Pratt Archaeologist
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Evolution.