— by Paul Salopek: When did human beings first decorate their oldest canvas: the body?

It is impossible to say. The primordial evidence—the hides of Stone Age peoples—has long since turned to dust. Yet clues remain. A rouge-colored mineral called ocher has been discovered, finely ground and ready for application, inside a 100,000-year-old abalone shell in South Africa. Other archaeological finds suggest that cosmetic pigments were used by pre-human ancestors as long ago as a quarter of a million years. Vanity is very old, indeed…

Image courtesy of Paul Salopek