The world’s oldest piece of string, 50,000 years old, found in France

It is believed to have been made by Neanderthal humans

What may be the world’s oldest piece of string, made by Neanderthal humans from bark about 50,000 years ago, has been unearthed in a rock shelter in France.

It’s a tiny fragment — just over two-tenths of an inch long — but its discoverers say it shows Neanderthals had extensive knowledge of the trees it was made from, and enough practical ability to make a string that would hold fast under tension.

Analysis of the discovery was first released Thursday in the science journal Scientific Reports.

It’s the first time that a string or a cord attributed to Neanderthals has been found – and it suggests they used other ancient technologies that have since rotted away, from basketry to clothing to fishing gear.

It also suggests that Neanderthals – the archetypal crude cavemen – were smarter than some people give them credit for.

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