Washington: The ancient ancestor of modern humans carved world's oldest abstract art on a mollusk shell with a shark tooth around 540,000 yrs ago, it has been revealed.
The ZigZag design, the oldest piece of art ever found by at least 300,000 years, as well as a shell tool were found at a site in what is now Java, Indonesia, Discovery News reported.
The work strongly suggests that Homo erectus, aka "Upright Man," was far more sophisticated than previously thought, being capable of cognition and behavior only attributed before to human species.
Josephine Joordens and her colleagues made the determination after studying a fossil freshwater mussel shell assemblage from a site called Trinil in Java.
The mussel shells originally were excavated by Eugene Dubois in the 1890s, but have been stored in the Dubois collection of the Naturalis museum in Leiden, The Netherlands. Sediment within the shells enabled them to be dated using both isotopic and luminescence methods.
The meaning of the design remains a mystery. The pattern could have held some symbolic significance, or the creator simply could have liked the linear design.