Ancient cave paintings turn out to be by Neanderthals, not humans

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A new discovery that Neanderthals were painting cave walls more than 64,000 years ago has anthropologists rethinking the history of art. Found deep in Spanish caves, the rock art was once thought to be the work of humans, but the new dates mean that Neanderthals must have figured out fingerpainting, too.

Using a new and improved radioactive dating technique, researchers discovered that paintings in three different caves were created more than 64,800 years ago. That means the paintings were created 20,000 years before modern humans, or Homo sapiens, arrived in Spain, according to a study published today in the journal Science. The discovery makes these the oldest examples of cave paintings in the world and the first to be attributed to…

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