Study paintings suggests that Neanderthals were smarter than we thought
The first creatures capable of sophisticated symbolic thought may not have been of our species. A series of cave paintings found in Europe are older than previously thought, indicating the possibility that Neanderthals have been instead of the Homo sapiens who carried them out.
The expression is seen in cave paintings as reflecting a sophisticated symbolic thought, which involves expressing thoughts and events with images, with the idea of displaying them. It also involves the development of technique. So far, this development was associated only with Homo sapiens.
Research published in Science by Joao Zilhao and Alistair Pike of Bristol University, measured the ages of 50 paintings in 11 Spanish caves. According to their calculations, some of the images are at least 41,000 years – probably more. The first modern humans reached Europe 40,000 years ago.
Traditional methods for estimating the age of the paintings are not very accurate, with errors of thousands of years. Pike studied Zilhao and mineral deposits formed on the surface of the caves and paints, instead of using carbon measurements. The greater the deposit, was the oldest painting.
The Spanish paintings seem to have been made 10,000 years ago to those found in France, which were considered until now as the oldest.
The potential of this discovery awakens imply that either the Homo sapiens arrived in Europe with a tradition of making drawings – something there is no evidence -, or quickly learned to paint just arrived in Europe. The latter theory has to wonder what would have happened so suddenly that cultural change, in that specific location.
The third possibility is that the artists were not Homo sapiens, but Neanderthals. This is only a hypothesis that should be investigated, but expose the fact that Neanderthals, traditionally considered less intelligent, sophisticated thinkers were actually capable of symbolism, social planning and empathy.
The paintings would be evidence that would remove the image from delayed traditionally loaded the Neanderthals.
Link: First painters may Have Been Neanderthal, not human (Wired)Tags: Homo neanderthalensis, homo sapiens, human, Neanderthal, species