The other iteration of the earliest meme that was developing simultaneously: oversized phallic symbols, Jenkins said.
"Those have existed pretty much since we started keeping records of these things.” This imagery appears extensively in the earliest cave paintings, archaic art, and a glut of medieval-aged texts with, uh, creative illustrations. The form has certainly changed throughout the years -- with a central message remaining constant.
"Not only is it representative of human vitality and sex, it also took on meaning as a subversive statement against societal norms, with the graffiti -- a place it still holds today," Jenkins said. Like death, "this is another meme representing a fundamental aspect of human reality. Their intent is very similar to so many of the current memes in our culture."
So we have two-way-tie between sex and death for the world’s first meme.
It's kind of complicated and existential and a little NSFW. So if someone asks, definitely feel free to just tell them the world's first meme was the Dancing Baby, and end it there. It's probably what I would do. And best of all, you aren't technically wrong. Finding the first memes confirm what we've somehow always known: Life, at its core, is all about dancing, mortality, and genitalia. Which, actually, is kind of what Ally McBeal was about, too.