The origins of this ability to think symbolically therefore have global relevance to each of the 7 billion people that currently occupy our planet.
The South African coastal record tells the story of how the human species became intertwined with the marine environment and it gives a time depth and clarity unique in the world.
A recent hypothesis around modern cognitive behaviour has posited these fatty acids as being the primary trigger for the enhanced cognitive development of modern humans, resulting in the unique ability of modern humans to understand and utilise symbols.
This unique characteristic of modern human behaviour is responsible for language, art and religion.
A slender point is consistent with a pin or needle-like implement, while a larger point, reminiscent of the single specimen from Peers Cave, parallels large un-poisoned bone arrow points from LSA, Iron Age and historical Bushman sites.
Additional support for the Sibudu point having served as an arrow tip comes from backed lithics in the HP compatible with this use, and the recovery of older, larger bone and lithic points from Blombos Cave, interpreted as spear heads.
Comparative microscopic and morphometric analysis of the Sibudu specimens together with bone tools from southern African Middle and Later Stone Age (LSA) deposits, an Iron Age occupation, nineteenth century Bushman hunter-gatherer toolkits, and bone tools used experimentally in a variety of tasks, reveals that the Sibudu polished piece has use-wear reminiscent of that on bones experimentally used to work animal hides.
Homo sapiens, ancestors of all modern people, emerged about 200 000 years ago.
Debates around the origin of these anatomically modern humans and the modernity of their behaviour are crucial to understanding the history of all modern people.
Recently discovered bone implements from Middle Stone Age (MSA) deposits at Sibudu Cave, South Africa, confirm the existence of a bone tool industry for the Howiesons Poort (HP) technocomplex.
Previously, an isolated bone point from Klasies River provided inconclusive evidence.