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How did Neollithic Man cut their toenails?

Discussion in 'General Issues and Discussion Forum' started by Ros Kidd, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. Ros Kidd

    Ros Kidd Active Member


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    This is not a silly question. Nails are modified claws; my dog keeps her claws short by me walking her on rocky substrate. Hominid nails, however, are not in contact with the ground, and thus would not routinely wear away. They did not have clippers or scissors - at least, they are not illustrated on the walls of Lascaux: what did they do?
     
  2. David Smith

    David Smith Well-Known Member

    They had the Chiropodist come round to their cave of course :D:D

    In jest Dave
     
  3. W J Liggins

    W J Liggins Well-Known Member

    It is not a silly question. Given the timescales involved and the obvious lack of any evidence we would simply be speculating. However, onychophagia has been noted in modern adults as well as children so that fact may offer an answer. My own speculation would be that many hominids would suffer from onychogryphosis due to trauma, with resultant lateral splitting of the nail. If any attempt was made by hominids to 'trim' nails (finger or toe) then it would not have been until the paleolithic when stone tools were first employed. Could stone nail files have been the first tools and did the entire human history of tool use to the present day hinge on the need to file toenails? We will never know. :butcher:

    All the best

    Bill Liggins
     
  4. twirly

    twirly Well-Known Member

    I too have pondered the very same question (I really should get out more).

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/silly-questions-toeing-the-line-1402825.html
    ''HOW DID Stone Age man cut his toenails? There are two major schools of thought: Mark Salisbury and John Bartlett have independently come to the conclusion that Stone Age woman nibbled her mate's nails. This rudimentary act evolved into the practice of toe-sucking still seen in atavistic sections of society''.

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20061231175616AALHlGB
    ''you may not believe this but archaeologists found striation groves on the teeth of women and not male bones and teeth that suggest the women bit all the nails off each other and the men. that is my understanding of what i read.
    6 years ago.'' :dizzy:

    Would love to know what really happened. I am guessing as Bill says. We are unlikely to ever know.

    I looked on Google Scholar too , very disappointing results. :confused:

    Happy Easter or whichever holiday is next your way.

    Regards, Mandy.
     
  5. Ros Kidd

    Ros Kidd Active Member

    Obviously too much chocolate today. Rob and I discussed this frustrating question and decided to enlist the help of the "big guns", so we have posed the problem to Berni at Institute for Human Evolution, Uni Witwatersrand. Hummm more chocolate needed.
    Ros
     
  6. W J Liggins

    W J Liggins Well-Known Member

    The Salisbury-Bartlett theory is contradicted by Geoffrey Langley, David Young and Stuart Cockerill, all of whom, equally independently, claim that Stone Age homo was not sapiens enough to have evolved toe-nails. Mr Young extrapolates this conclusion from the lack of facial hair on neolithic cave paintings.

    Mr Langley believes that toe-nails 'developed by natural selection from callouses formed by the constant dropping of heavy stone artefacts upon the unprotected toes', while Mr Cockerill believes toe-nails to have played a crucial part in the development of intelligence: 'People with toe-nails wore out their socks more rapidly than people without, so had to hunt for more sheep to domesticate. The hunting process developed their brains more rapidly, so the Toe-nailed Folk became more intelligent and out-evolved their nail-less brethren, eventually turning into modern man.'

    This is a portion of the article in the 'Independent' noted by Twirly (above).

    If Langley and Young are indeed scholars, then I think this is an April Fool joke just a bit ahead of it's time (1st tomorrow in the UK)!

    Care to comment Rob?

    Bill
     
  7. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    Well now. First recognise that she and me are working totally outside the 1/4 issue. Actually it was a serious question, to which we have have had some sensible answers. whenever I have been working away from home - which sadly, has been many, and have had to deal with finger nails, I have done as follows. A good northern lad like myself applies nails to the wall of the next building, and files down as required. Did they do the same with toe nails? I suspect yes. However on MOH's hardnest scale, toe nails are not going to leave any evidence. I suspect, that a decent lump of granite was one of the earliest bits of the podiatric tool chest. Rob
     
  8. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    Well, there is an outside chance it could have been this little beauty...

    [​IMG]

    Rumour has it, the archaeologist found this somewhere between the Euphrates & Tigris rivers. He sent it to a lab for radiometric dating... he didn't like the result... he then sent it to 5 other labs... all providing (in some cases vastly) different results on this one artefact... he gave up dating the object & thus placed it in his own medicine cabinet ;) [note: the above is a wee tale - a parable of sorts].
     
  9. Ros Kidd

    Ros Kidd Active Member

    Berni at Wits' also has been wondering about this! So yesterday we contacted Chester Zoo and asked them what their hominoids did with their toenails? The reply was that their nails were cut by a team of vets.
     
  10. Seamus McNally

    Seamus McNally Active Member

    I had a man in last week and I asked him how he usually cut his toe nails. He replied that he had a small house dog, and when he snoozed on the couch with his shoes off the dog nibbled his nails. (He was moderate risk diabetic and liked a drink, which facilitated his regular couch-snoozing) Anyways, there may be a clue to the pedicure of the caveman in there.
     
  11. twirly

    twirly Well-Known Member

    My response was not intended to be flippant. I too am intrigued & my post was more to highlight the paucity of information available.

    I shall follow with interest. {Just reread thread & unsure if Rob's response was with regard to original post}. Either way still following with interest. Just quietly now).

    Kindest regards,

    Mandy.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2013
  12. Ros Kidd

    Ros Kidd Active Member

    Rob is now running with the problem.
     
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