A new study, published in the journal Science, proposes Neanderthals, and not modern humans, like us, were responsible for creating world’s oldest known cave paintings.
The researchers, led by scientists at the UK’s University of Southampton and Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, say that their findings suggest our closely related prehistoric ancestor may have had an artistic sense like our own.
The researchers studied wall paintings found at three cave sites in Spain – Pasiega, Maltravieso, and Ardales.
Using an advanced dating technique called uranium-thorium dating, the researchers determined that the paintings are more than 64,000 years old.
The researchers suggest the cave art, which included pictures of animals and geometric symbols, must have been made by Neanderthals since it is thought modern humans did not arrive in Europe until some 20,000 years later.
Dr. Chris Standish, joint lead author of the study and an archaeologist at the University of Southampton commented in a press release… “This is an incredibly exciting discovery which suggests Neanderthals were much more sophisticated than is popularly believed.