Our Ancestors Made Their Own Insect-Repellent Beds
If you think that our ancient ancestors were unfamiliar with insect-borne diseases, then you would be incorrect. Insects have been spreading disease among humans ever since we came into existence. Our early ancestors were undoubtedly aware of the fact that certain insects could cause illness. Tropical regions were, and obviously still are, highly populated with dangerous insects. These insects are particularly dangerous to humans during sleep. Surprisingly, our ancestors living in these areas were not defenseless against disease spreading insects while sleeping. In fact, they may have possessed some forms of defense that were superior to what we moderns use. For example, our ancestors created their own mattress-like mats to sleep on, and evidence shows that these mats ultimately protected early humans from insect-borne diseases. According to researchers, early humans built their own beds out of particular plants that were effective at repelling insects.
Between seventy seven and thirty eight thousand years ago, early humans inhabiting what is now South Africa constructed padded mats made from the leaves of the Cryptocarya woodii tree. Experts in the field of botany have claimed that these leaves are useful for repelling insects. It is likely that these particular leaves were not chosen as material to sleep on solely because of the comfort level that they provided; instead, our ancestors used these leaves because they learned that insects would not approach these particular trees. Therefore, it seems probable that early humans deliberately used these leaves as a form of protection from insect-pests while they slept.
Archaeologist Lyn Wadley has been excavating fossil-rich regions of South Africa for several years. Recently, Dr. Wadley discovered bed-like constructions ten meters below the surface of the ground. According to Dr. Wadley, the fossilized bedding could not have been formed by nature. Further digging revealed that these tree leaves were used to build other objects meant for human comfort, such as carpeting. Several caves were found to have various objects made from these anti-insect leaves located throughout. It now seems that some early humans were far more protected from insect-borne disease than previously assumed.
Do you think that leaves from the Cryptocarya woodii tree could be useful for modern pest control purposes?
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