Human being

We had been Homo for some time. But it took a while before we became truly sapiens. Now it seems that a defining moment in our development was when mankind collectively decided that body armour was truly the thing. A professor of early prehistory yesterday explained to the British Association meeting in London that the wearing of ornaments - to make yourself appear to be something that you are not quite - could be seen to be a key stage in human development.

We had been Homo for some time. But it took a while before we became truly sapiens. Now it seems that a defining moment in our development was when mankind collectively decided that body armour was truly the thing. A professor of early prehistory yesterday explained to the British Association meeting in London that the wearing of ornaments - to make yourself appear to be something that you are not quite - could be seen to be a key stage in human development.

That news is in itself comforting. It can be used by teenagers across Britain in search of a persuasive argument for having their belly-button pierced ("Please, mum: it'll move me on to another planeof understanding").

Above all, however, we find it doubly reassuring to learn that our ancestors were not immune to the lure of the designer rip-off. Thus it seems that, when seashells were being worn by le tout mankind, some were still trying to get by with fakes - wearing mere common-or-garden ivory, for example, made to look like a fashionable seashell. Now, 30,000 years on, is the original or the fake more desirable? For purveyors of Versace and Rolex lookalikes, no conundrum could be more pleasing.

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