NPR

Cave Art May Have Been Handiwork Of Neanderthals

Scientists say some of the earliest cave art found in Europe was done before humans arrived; thus, Neanderthal art, suggesting that our "brutish" cousins were capable of symbolic thinking.
Left: Dirk Hoffmann and Alistair Pike sample calcite from a calcite crust on top of the red scalariform sign in La Pasiega.Right: Drawing of Panel 78 in La Pasiega by Breuil et al.(1913). The red scalariform (ladder) symbol has a minimum age of 64,000 years but it is unclear if the animals and other symbols were painted later. Source: J. Zilhão (left) / Breuil et al. (1913)

Tens of thousands of years ago, the first artists painted images on the walls of caves. They collected, painted and ground holes in shells, presumably to wear. It was the very first art, created by what we call "modern humans," or Homo sapiens.

Except, it turns out that some of that cave art may have been created by Neanderthals — our ancient and, by evolutionary standards, failed cousins. At least, that's what a team of scientists

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