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Ancient beds warded off insects

World's 'oldest beds', which dates back to 77,000 years, were designed to naturally fend off insects, a new study has revealed.

world Updated: Dec 10, 2011 00:38 IST

World's 'oldest beds', which dates back to 77,000 years, were designed to naturally fend off insects, a new study has revealed.

Scientists unearthed early proof of bedding made from compacted stems and leaves at a rock shelter in South Africa.

At least three different layers at the Sibudu site contained bed remains, left by people who slept there between 38,000 and 77,000 years ago - and as well as providing a place to sleep, the leaves contained insecticide chemicals that would have kept mosquitoes at bay, the Daily Mail reported.

The oldest of the sleeping mats was particularly well preserved, consisting of fossilised sedge stems and leaves covered by a paper-thin leaf layer.

"The selection of these leaves for the construction of bedding suggests that the inhabitants of Sibudu had knowledge of the plants surrounding the shelter and were aware of their medicinal uses," said team leader Professor Lyn Wadley, from the University of the Witwa-tersrand in Johannesburg.