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First Clothes Roundup

January 21, 2011

Researchers date the advent of clothing by the evolution of lice.


Bob Hirshon (Host):
How old are clothes? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

University of Florida researchers estimate that humans first began wearing clothes 170,000 years ago. They calculated the date by studying the genetics of clothes lice, which are adapted to living in clothing and can’t survive on a naked person. The genetics of the clothing lice reveal that they evolved from head lice about 170,000 years ago.

In other news, did you ever wonder why the woman in the painting Mona Lisa is sitting on a balcony, but behind her is a wild scene featuring forests and deserts? Well, according to an article in the Italian journal Medicia, Da Vinci based the painting on three love poems by Horace and Petrarch. The poets describe their love for a smiling woman, and how they’ll follow her anywhere, from dark forests to desolate deserts. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.