Cave art suggests Neandertals were ancient humans’ mental equals | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

SCIENCE NEWS NEEDS YOU

Support nonprofit journalism

Subscribe now


News

Cave art suggests Neandertals were ancient humans’ mental equals

Newly dated rock drawings and shell ornaments predate Homo sapiens in Europe by at least 20,000 years

By
2:12pm, February 22, 2018
cave art

ARTISTIC SURPRISE  Red horizontal and vertical lines painted on the walls of a Spanish cave date to at least 64,800 years ago, a new study finds. Since Homo sapiens had not reached Europe at that time, Neandertals must have created this art, researchers propose. The animal-shaped figure, right, was not dated and its makers remain unknown.

Neandertals drew on cave walls and made personal ornaments long before encountering Homo sapiens, two new studies find. These discoveries paint bulky, jut-jawed Neandertals as the mental equals of ancient humans, scientists say.

Rock art depicting abstract shapes and hand stencils in three Spanish caves dates back to at least 64,800 years ago, researchers report in the Feb. 23 Science. If these new estimates hold up, the Spanish finds become the world’s oldest known examples of cave art, preceding evidence of humans’ arrival in Europe by at least 20,000 years (SN Online: 11/2/11).

The finds raise the possibility that “Neandertals took modern humans into caves and showed them how to paint,” says archaeologist Francesco d’Errico of the University of

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content