Beneath Biscay

By Douglian

Meet the family

A bit of an emergency blip this. Always fascinated by the Neaderthal issue. Not long ago they were viewed as 'nothing to do with us', very primative and probably incapable of abstract thought.

Now it seems that those of an 'out of Africa' (meeting neanderthals on the way) heritage, carry some neanderthal genes.

Not only does it now seem they were amorous towards the new arrivals out of africa but perhaps they were artists to. New research on cave paintings has been taking place in Asturias very recently. A newly refined technique of uranium-thorium dating has been used to date minerals on which the painting were made, and those deposited afterwards on top of the paintings.

The results show that one of the paintings at the El Castillo cave in Asturias is older than previously thought, and at at least 40,800 years old becomes the oldest dated human art in the world.

Scientists believe that homo-sapiens only arrived in Europe 41,500 ago, making it a strong possibility, based on current knowledge that this is neanderthal art.

This is not the first suggestion of neanderthal cave art. Fairly recently other research indicated that some paintings in Nerja caves, near Malaga in southern Spain were between 43,500 and 42,300 years old, putting them firmly in the neanderthal epoch. However that study used radio carbon dating which is much less accurate at these ages and further test results are due in 2013.

The search goes on.

If I ever get around to it I shall send this coin to Justin Jackson, fellow neanderthal enthusiast and co-presenter, with Dr. 'Kiki' Sandford, of the science podcast This Week in Science (one of my favourite podcasts).

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