Not a new invention. (Photo: Dmeranda/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The world’s oldest sewing needle has been discovered in Siberia’s Denisova Cave, and it doesn’t look like it was made by Homo sapiens. According to the Siberian Times, the little needle was likely created by an extinct species of human known as the Denisovans.

The needle is made of an unidentified bird bone, measuring just under three inches long, and is thought to date back some 50,000 years. It even has an eye carved in the top through which to string thread. As the article points out, it’s probably still usable today.       

Researchers in the Denisova Cave have previously found sewing needles in their excavations, but none as old as this one. While the cave is remarkable for showing signs of habitation from at least three distinct species of human (genus Homo), including Neanderthals, and modern humans, the needle is thought to have been the work of the Denisovan species.

Previous evidence of this extinct race of humanity, named after the cave, has dated back only 40,000 years, but the new needle provides evidence that the Denisovans were using advanced tools as long as 10,000 before that.

Excavation work continues at the Denisova Cave, but it may be a while before they unearth something as remarkable as this needle.