If they did, that’ll be even less reason to think of them as some kind of “missing link”:
What if, long before Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo, the Neanderthals were humanity’s first artists? At any rate, this is the hypothesis raised by new dating of Spanish rock paintings published in February 2018 in the journal Science (link is external)
,indicatingthat the hands and animals depicted on the walls of three caves date back 65,000 years. This would mean that they were painted 25,000 years before the arrival of the first Homo sapiens in the Iberian peninsula. The estimated ages are based on uranium-thorium dating of the calcite layer that coats the frescoes. Could these be the work of Neanderthals? A certain amount of additional data supports this view. For example, traces of pigments in a shell have been dated to 115,000 years ago, while drawings of cats and handprints in the Grotte des Merveilles, Rocamadour (southwestern France) are believed to be between 50,000 and 70,000 years old. In light of this evidence, it is not difficult to imagine that the Neanderthals were endowed with artistic ability.
The interpretation of this research, however, is purely speculative at present. Firstly, the estimated ages will have to be confirmed by other dating methods, especially since no Neanderthal bones were found in these caves. Léa
Galanopoulo, “Who Was the First Artist?” at CNRS News
Drawings of cats 50,000 to 70,000 years ago? The ultimate ancestor of the now saturation-point funny cat vids at YouTube?
See also: Neanderthal art found.
Was Neanderthal man fully human? The role racism played in assessing the evidence
A deep and abiding need for Neanderthals to be stupid. Why?
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