Anatomically modern human fashion

The anatomically modern human (AMH) has been around, as far as anthropologists can tell, for about 190 million years. At least that’s the age of the earliest fossil evidence for people who were us, rather than Neanderthals or Denisovans.

One thing I’m curious about is whether we AMHs wore clothing right from the very beginning. Obviously we wore clothing in the colder climates, but what about in equatorial regions, where temperature was not an issue?

Did we always cover our private parts, in all regions of the world? The reason I find this interesting is that it touches on the question of culture versus heredity.

If every AMH tribe, right from the beginning, wore at least some variety of what we would now think think of as a loin cloth, then it’s a good bet that the urge to wear clothing is an instinct. This would put costumery in the same general category as, say, natural language or tribal cohesion.

We all do lots of things that are not instinctive. For example, we read books and ride in cars. Neither of those two activities is dictated by instinct.

But things that are instinctive — like the sex drive or the love of one’s own children — are in a different category. They are not cultural imperatives, but rather biological imperatives, passed down in our DNA.

Is fashion a biological imperative? I suspect that some anthropologist knows the answer.

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