We've all heard the saying, "It's the greatest thing since sliced bread." But sliced bread has only been around since 1928. What about all the great stuff that came before it?
Our caveman friends were pretty busy inventing things, too. Here are six items we take for granted nowadays, but they had a huge impact on humanity at the time they were first introduced.
There really is only so much you can say without language. Ever tried ordering a venti soy latte by nodding, pointing and grunting at a barista? Today, there's compelling evidence that cavemen were the first to speak a set language . According to expert Dr Quentin Atkinson, all the languages of the world are derived from it.
Once man had wrapped his noggin around the idea of fire, it wasn't long before he realized he could make food taste better by heating it up. We don't know exactly when or how it happened, but we do know that it was a stroke of genius. Primatologist Richard Wrangham has suggested that cooking may have been invented as far back as 1.8 million to 2.3 million years ago.
Before cooking, man ate everything raw, including meat. And we all know how many bacteria live in raw meat. Cooking reduced the chances of man catching something nasty from his steak dinner, and may even have helped him develop a bigger brain.
Some things just can't be done by using your hands. We know this, and cavemen did, too. They got around their physical limitations by inventing tools, making spears, knives and other useful paraphernalia out of rocks and wood. Black and Decker owe these guys everything.
Let's face it; the world would be a lot less colorful without paint. Cavemen didn't invent paint in the modern sense—there were certainly no Dulux-painted caves—but they did draw on and decorate their walls with other pigments.
Cave paintings drawn with red or yellow ochre, hematite, manganese oxide and charcoal may be as much as 40,000 years old.Now there's also evidence that paint is even older still, after 100,000 year old paint-making kits were discovered.
There is evidence that cavemen were migrating from one place to another as long as 40,000 years ago. But how were they getting there? By boat! Back then, a boat was just a hollowed-out tree trunk, but it's still pretty impressive that they thought of it. The oldest boat discovered is currently sitting in a museum; it's a youthful 7,500 years old by comparison.
It might seem frivolous to include this as a "great invention," but even cavemen needed clothes. Ever tried wearing animal skins? There is evidence that people have been stitching clothes together for the past 15,000 years—even before the invention of the right tools.
Stone Age people bored holes through cloth with bird talons and used tendons to attach pieces together. Later, some clever cave dweller thought of using bones with "eyes" for holding thread. And thus, the needle and thread was born.
Alfablue, January 2013