Oldest Human Hairs Found in Hyena Dung
Natural History Magazine
LiveScience.com sarah Hoffman
natural History Magazine
livescience.com – Mon May 11, 12:19 am ET
The oldest known human hair belonged to a 9,000-year-old mummy disinterred from an ancient Chilean cemetery.
Until now: a recent discovery pushes the record back some 200,000 years. (And the newly discovered strands received a rather less dignified burial.)
While excavating in Gladysvale Cave, near Johannesburg, South Africa, a team of researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand discovered an ancient brown-hyena latrine. Upon inspection, hyena coprolites - fossilized dung - appeared to contain uncannily hair-like structures.
Lucinda Backwell, a paleontologist in the group, took a sediment block containing several coprolites back to the lab for a closer look. She and a colleague carefully removed forty of the "hairs apparent" from one of the coprolites and subjected half to scanning-electron microscopy. Sure enough, fossilized hairs they were, and five showed remarkably preserved surface scales.
I had assumed that this referred to Prince Charles