BRISTOL, U.K. - A new study suggests that self-importance dates back to before the Neanderthals.
Archaeologist Zoão Bilhão of the University of Bristols in England said he and his colleagues have discovered 50,000-year-old perforated, painted seashells and pigment containers in southwestern Europe, a region solely inhabited by Neanderthals at that time.
Modern humans who lived in Africa used objects like these for jewelry and body painting to symbolize social status, like "I'm with him" (marriage), or "I belong to him" (slavery).
This startling new evidence suggests that the brain of the 600,000-year-old common ancestor of both Neanderthals and modern humans must have already been biologically capable of symbolic thoughts like "I'm more important than you" - meaning we were already bastards more than half a million years ago.
Furthermore, because assigning specific meanings to arbitrary words, sounds and objects is the foundation for language, Bilhão noted, the discovery also implies that we've probably been able to call bastards bastards for equally as long.