Red ochre and shells: Clues to human evolution

Carlos Duarte*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

The 200-kiloannus (ka) use of red ochre and shells by humans is interpreted as a simple clue of symbolic thinking. Integration of multiple lines of evidence supports the opinion that the use of red ochre and shells might have had direct significance for human evolution. Use of seafood and red ochre supplies docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), possibly iron, and other essential nutrients for brain development and reproductive health, improving human fitness and triggering brain growth. The fitness advantages to humans of using shells, and possibly red ochre, might have selected for artistic and symbolic expression, and, thereby, lead to social cohesion. Current global health syndromes show that an adequate supply of seafood and iron continues to play a fundamental role in human health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-565
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Volume29
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

Keywords

  • Fitness
  • Human evolution
  • Iron
  • Nutrition
  • Seafood
  • Shells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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