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Famous Cave Paintings Might Not Be From Humans
NPR.org ^ | June 15, 2012 | Christopher Joyce

Posted on 06/15/2012 8:47:02 AM PDT by dead

The famous paintings on the walls of caves in Europe mark the beginning of figurative art and a great leap forward for human culture.

But now a novel method of determining the age of some of those cave paintings questions their provenance. Not that they're fakes — only that it might not have been modern humans who made them.

The first European cave paintings are thought to have been made over 30,000 years ago. Most depict animals and hunters. Some of the eeriest are stencils of human hands, apparently made by blowing a spray of pigment over a hand held up to a wall.

But now scientists are suggesting those aren't human hands, at least in some caves in Spain.

Alistair Pike, an archaeologist at the University of Bristol in England who used a novel technique to get new dates for some of those paintings, says they're older than people thought, and they may just predate the arrival of humans in Europe.

"What we are saying is that we must entertain the possibility that these paintings were made by Neanderthals," Pike says. Those were humans' closest relatives, but they are not our species.

Pike says some of these paintings in Spain are at least 40,800 years old. At that time, Neanderthals had been running around Europe for 200,000 or 300,000 years. Modern humans had just arrived from Africa.

Pike concedes that maybe modern humans arrived in Europe with palette and pigment in hand, ready to paint up the town.

But the paintings could be even older. Pike's technique dates the age of the calcium carbonate that naturally forms in layers on top of the paintings. It's kind of like nature's shellac. Obviously the paintings had to be made before the first layer formed.

Archaeologist Joao Zilhao from the University of Barcelona is part of the team that did the work. He says his gut tells him it's Neanderthal art.

"We can't be 100 percent certain that they did it," Zilhao says. "I think that there is a strong probability. My point is the evidence for symbolic behavior among the Neanderthals already exists."

Neanderthals did perform ritual burials. They made decorative beads and other ornaments. Pike also notes that DNA evidence now suggests that modern humans and Neanderthals interbred.

"Why should it be surprising that Neanderthals produced art?" Pike says.

It does surprise archaeologists like Pat Shipman, who has spent a lifetime studying symbolic behavior. She wonders why Neanderthals waited until about the time humans arrived to get the itch to paint.

"OK, Neanderthals had been there for 300,000 years, and they're not doing this," Shipman says. "If they are not doing it before, why would they suddenly start doing it at that point?"

Ancient Neanderthals challenge us to think about our role as the sole humans on Earth today. A decorative shell ornament attributed to Neanderthals. Study: Neanderthals Wore Jewelry And Makeup

The discovery suggests that early relatives of humans were capable of symbolic thinking.

Shipman notes long before humans made the trek from Africa to Europe, they had been making all sorts of symbolic artifacts — ocher hash marks on stone or symmetrical marks on ostrich eggs.

"I find it easiest to assume that people who are already doing that moved into more figurative representations than thinking that an entirely other species of people suddenly came up with making figurative art," Shipman says.

The research appears in the journal Science. Pike says he needs to find paintings a few thousand years old than he has so far to make his case for Neanderthal art. He and his Spanish colleagues are headed back to find it.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: caveart; cavedrawings; cavepainting; cavepaintings; godsgravesglyphs; neandertal; neandertals; neanderthal; neanderthals; palaeolithic; paleolithic
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1 posted on 06/15/2012 8:47:03 AM PDT by dead
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To: dead

Graffiti from ancient aliens?


2 posted on 06/15/2012 8:50:12 AM PDT by freedumb2003 ('RETRO' Abortions = performed on 84th trimester individuals who think killing babies is a "right.")
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To: dead

Ogg: Ma look! - When Ogg put hand on wall Ogg sneeze!

Ogg’s Mother: O look now Ogg you’ve given yourself a nosebleed.


3 posted on 06/15/2012 8:50:41 AM PDT by freedomlover (Make sure you're in love - before you move in the heavy stuff)
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To: dead
or they're not as old as they think they are?

or they were made by extraterrestrials?

4 posted on 06/15/2012 8:51:38 AM PDT by smokingfrog ( sleep with one eye open (<o> ---)
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To: dead

Neanderthals ARE humans and Europeans carry their DNA


5 posted on 06/15/2012 8:52:15 AM PDT by Vaquero (Don't pick a fight with an old guy. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.)
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To: dead
Oh yes...really
6 posted on 06/15/2012 8:53:08 AM PDT by Bayard
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To: dead

Looks like they were all right-handed.


7 posted on 06/15/2012 8:55:43 AM PDT by panaxanax (Voting 'Third Party' will ensure a Communist-Marxist-Socialist dominated Supreme Court!)
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To: Vaquero

I have a business partner who is a Neanderthal.


8 posted on 06/15/2012 8:56:45 AM PDT by donhunt (Certified and proud "Son of a Bitch".)
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To: Bayard

The first thing I thought of was that picture. I never get tired of it. really


9 posted on 06/15/2012 8:56:50 AM PDT by BipolarBob (These aren't the droids you're looking for.)
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To: dead

the trouble with the neanderthal theory is that you see a lot of this rock art in north africa where modern humans hung out for many thousands of years before crossing over into europe.


10 posted on 06/15/2012 8:58:03 AM PDT by ckilmer
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To: panaxanax

So... spray paint was invented 30,000 years ago,
and these guys’ next invention was “GoJo” to get the stuff off the back of their left hand.


11 posted on 06/15/2012 9:00:24 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: dead
She wonders why Neanderthals waited until about the time humans arrived to get the itch to paint.

If the DNA evidence is correct and they did interbreed, then why isn't it conceivable that the painting was learned behavior from 'modern' humans?

12 posted on 06/15/2012 9:03:49 AM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (My dog, yes. My wife, maybe. My gun....NEVER!)
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To: Vaquero

Amazing to examine, “from the outside”, the conclusions that folks reach based on their evolutionary, millions of years assumptions. And they don’t even understand that they HAVE assumptions.


13 posted on 06/15/2012 9:04:23 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: Bayard

14 posted on 06/15/2012 9:06:30 AM PDT by JRios1968 (I'm guttery and trashy, with a hint of lemon. - Laz)
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To: freedumb2003

15 posted on 06/15/2012 9:06:30 AM PDT by null and void (Day 1242 of our ObamaVacation from reality - Obama is not a Big Brother [he's a Big Sissy...])
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To: dead

I think there is a mystery being missed in this story..

Where did the ‘paint’ come from?

Being Neanderthals, how is it they ‘discovered’ how to make and use paint (or plant dye)?

Also, those are some really small fingers for a Neanderthal.


16 posted on 06/15/2012 9:06:58 AM PDT by Bigh4u2 (Denial is the first requirement to be a liberal)
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To: dead

Another closer study revealed that right below the hand is a copyright sign and date. Details to follow.


17 posted on 06/15/2012 9:07:35 AM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: Vaquero
Neanderthals ARE humans and Europeans carry their DNA

I'll second that.
18 posted on 06/15/2012 9:07:45 AM PDT by Sopater (...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. - 2 COR 3:17b)
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To: MrB
Amazing to examine, “from the outside”, the conclusions that folks reach based on their evolutionary, millions of years assumptions. And they don’t even understand that they HAVE assumptions.

Because the alternative is simply unacceptable. ;-)
19 posted on 06/15/2012 9:10:04 AM PDT by Sopater (...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. - 2 COR 3:17b)
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To: Vaquero

Wolves and coyotes are generally agreed to be different species.

And yet there are many coyote populations that are 1-4% of wolf ancestry - much as most human populations are apparently of 1-4% of Neanderthal ancestry.

Wolves and coyotes are closely related.

Humans and Neanderthals were closely related.

But they are NOT the same species.


20 posted on 06/15/2012 9:11:17 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: dead

“Zog Jones cooks his meat.”


21 posted on 06/15/2012 9:13:13 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Bigh4u2

“Maybelle, ever since we painted handprints of the kids on that there cave wall, tourism has been WAY up.”


22 posted on 06/15/2012 9:13:36 AM PDT by treetopsandroofs (Had FDR been GOP, there would have been no World Wars, just "The Great War" and "Roosevelt's Wars".)
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To: dead

Well why not art, Al Gore also invented the internet.


23 posted on 06/15/2012 9:13:54 AM PDT by ully2
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To: dead

As long as you are entertaining the idea of various non-human possibilities ...

24 posted on 06/15/2012 9:15:12 AM PDT by Zakeet (Euroland will collapse in five to 15 years - Milton Friedman in 2002)
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To: allmendream

I think it might be more than 4%.

Who hasn’t seen those short low-browed guys with long arms and back hair walking down the street and thought or said, “Now THAT’s a neanderthal”?


25 posted on 06/15/2012 9:18:05 AM PDT by treetopsandroofs (Had FDR been GOP, there would have been no World Wars, just "The Great War" and "Roosevelt's Wars".)
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To: Vaquero

“Neanderthals ARE humans and Europeans carry their DNA”

The article says that we were seperate species and then that we interbred. It has to be one or the other, right? Neanderthals were a sub-specias of homo sapian sapian.


26 posted on 06/15/2012 9:20:16 AM PDT by Owl558 ("Those who remember George Satayana are doomed to repeat him")
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To: dfwgator

Far Side: “Hey, look what Thag do!”


27 posted on 06/15/2012 9:21:31 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: Vaquero

exactly!


28 posted on 06/15/2012 9:23:52 AM PDT by raygunfan
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To: treetopsandroofs
Elvis Costello noticed. ;)

-Is she really going out with him? -

Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street
From my window I'm staring while my coffee grows cold
Look over there! (Where?)
There's a lady that I used to know
She's married now, or engaged, or something, so I am told

Is she really going out with him?
Is she really gonna take him home tonight?
Is she really going out with him?
‘Cause if my eyes don't deceive me,
There's something going wrong around here

Tonight's the night when I go to all the parties down my street.
I wash my hair and I kid myself I look real smooth
Look over there! (Where?)
Here comes Jeanie with her new boyfriend
They say that looks don't count for much
If so, there goes your proof

Is she really going out with him?
Is she really gonna take him home tonight?
Is she really going out with him?
‘Cause if my eyes don't deceive me,
There's something going wrong around here

But if looks could kill
There's a man there who's more down as dead.
Cause I've had my fill
Listen you, take your hands off her head
I get so mean around this scene

Is she really going out with him?
Is she really gonna take him home tonight?
Is she really going out with him?
‘Cause if my eyes don't deceive me
There's something going wrong around here

29 posted on 06/15/2012 9:25:11 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: dfwgator

Thats why we cook our meat to this day, just to keep up with the Jones.


30 posted on 06/15/2012 9:25:52 AM PDT by depenzz (There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by sword. The other is by debt. John Adam)
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To: Owl558
Wolves and coyotes interbred.

Are wolves and coyotes generally considered the same species or even sub-species of each other?

31 posted on 06/15/2012 9:29:39 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: dead

32 posted on 06/15/2012 9:31:01 AM PDT by GeorgeWashingtonsGhost
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To: treetopsandroofs
Oops - it was Joe Jackson who wrote that song - Elvis covered it and that was the version I was most familiar with.

Mia culpa.

33 posted on 06/15/2012 9:32:28 AM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to D.C. to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: dead

So easy, a caveman could do it.

34 posted on 06/15/2012 9:33:44 AM PDT by N. Theknow (Kennedys=Can't drive, can't ski, can't fly, can't skipper a boat, but they know what's best for you.)
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To: treetopsandroofs
Kids?

Possibly, but nothing in the article states that.

But I'm talking about the bone structure, which with Neanderthals, has a different thumb spacing structure than modern man. (see C and D)




35 posted on 06/15/2012 9:34:55 AM PDT by Bigh4u2 (Denial is the first requirement to be a liberal)
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To: dead

Walking around the Smithsonian Museum of Modern Art I saw many pieces which I assumed had been made by lemurs. Or perhaps cows who had sat in some semi-gloss latex.


36 posted on 06/15/2012 9:36:27 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: GeorgeWashingtonsGhost

This is a HOAX to garner more grants for research.


37 posted on 06/15/2012 9:36:49 AM PDT by GeorgeWashingtonsGhost
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To: dead
"OK, Neanderthals had been there for 300,000 years, and they're not doing this," Shipman says. "If they are not doing it before, why would they suddenly start doing it at that point?"

For thousands of years, humans didn't do a lot of things, then suddenly we started doing them. Every innovation has its time and its reasons.

Remember when the young monkeys started washing their food in water to remove the grit? Why didn't the older ones figure that out? And why did they not join in on the discovery right away?

There are dozens of examples of animals not doing something for thousands of years and then one day...

38 posted on 06/15/2012 9:40:30 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault (Dick Obama is more inexperienced now than he was before he was elected.)
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To: dead
Photobucket Looks to me like they were trying to claw themselves out of one of those prehistoric fishes. ;)
39 posted on 06/15/2012 9:48:01 AM PDT by RetSignman
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To: allmendream

Uhh, that’s Joe Jackson.


40 posted on 06/15/2012 9:51:31 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: allmendream

Missed your mea culpa, never knew Elvis covered it.


41 posted on 06/15/2012 9:53:20 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: dead

The handprint on the lower right has from 5 to 7 fingers.

They live amongst us.

42 posted on 06/15/2012 9:55:58 AM PDT by kidd
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To: N. Theknow
So where did they get the can of spray paint from to make those?
That's the bigger question :^)
43 posted on 06/15/2012 10:00:51 AM PDT by The Cajun (Sarah Palin, Mark Levin......Nuff said.)
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To: Bigh4u2

Aren’t Neanderthals supposed to have huge knuckles from dragging them?


44 posted on 06/15/2012 10:05:50 AM PDT by Retired Greyhound (.)
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To: The Cajun
So where did they get the can of spray paint from to make those?

Cave-Mart

45 posted on 06/15/2012 10:06:59 AM PDT by N. Theknow (Kennedys=Can't drive, can't ski, can't fly, can't skipper a boat, but they know what's best for you.)
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To: dead
Neanderthals you say? Explains a lot...


46 posted on 06/15/2012 10:15:05 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Buckeye McFrog

Another Far Side -

Cows sitting in chairs while the phone is ringing:
“There that thing goes again, and here we sit without opposable thumbs.”


47 posted on 06/15/2012 10:20:13 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: dead

The paintings might not be from humans? Democrats painted them, maybe.


48 posted on 06/15/2012 10:31:13 AM PDT by MayflowerMadam
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To: Bayard

People keep posting these pics of this guy. What show is are they from?


49 posted on 06/15/2012 10:34:47 AM PDT by Getsmart64
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To: Bayard

Does that guy in the photo not own a comb?


50 posted on 06/15/2012 10:54:28 AM PDT by LottieDah (If only those who speak so eloquently on behalf of animals would do so on behalf of the unborn.)
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