The earliest domesticated animals in sub-Saharan Africa have been found in a cave in Namibia. The fossils are two very worn teeth, from either a sheep or a goat – they are too worn to tell us which for certain, but they are clearly similar to those of domesticated sheep and goats living in Africa today. The last wild sheep or goats lived in Africa approximately 12,000 years ago. David Pleurdeau, from the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, worked with other Paris colleagues and scientists from the National Museum of Namibia on the fossils, which are dated from between 2,190 and 2,270 years ago – decidedly older than the previously known oldest domesticated animal fossils from the region, a 2,105-year-old sheep. Scientists are unsure whether the teeth fossils mean that the Neolithic herders were inhabitants of the cave or were just passers-by with their sheep. Also found in the Later Stone Age cave were stone and bone tools, beads and pendants, pottery pieces, and bones of other native animals (lizards, tortoises, and rodents).

Read more about the site – Leopard Cave in Namibia – here.

Read more at New York Times Science.

Find the open access published article in the journal PLoS One.

Published On: August 10, 2012

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