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Earliest Neanderthal cave paintings found

By: Callie Gao

Neanderthals, also known as Homo neanderthalensis, are the closest human relatives and are now extinct.

Researchers in France have discovered that Neanderthals used their fingers to create art and markings on the walls of caves. According to the researchers, the markings are 57,000 years old, which is a long time before modern humans arrived.

The old markings have a pattern made up of dots, stripes and lines. People believe that this could possibly be the first form of art. The Neanderthals used a technique called finger fluting where they swept their fingers through the soft surface long ago. "The majority of the traces on these panels were made by fingers laid flat... while a few rare traces appear to have been made by a finger on edge on the side," a researcher says.

New research suggests that the cave entrance was blocked off by sediments about 51,000 years ago. That was the last time humans and other organisms had been able to enter the cave. It was later rediscovered in the beginning of the 20th century.

Some researchers speculate that the ancient cave paintings could be older. Jean Claude Marquet, a researcher working with the study, says, “The engravings could only have been made by Neanderthals… Most importantly, the cave entrance was closed thousands of years before Homo sapiens are known from the area. The artwork itself is probably even older, at around 75,000 years old."



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