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That shows Neanderthals "were quite capable of inventing the ornaments themselves," said Paola Villa of the University of Colorado Museum in Boulder, who also didn't participate in the new work. The research, released Thursday by the journals Science and Science Advances, focused on determining the ages of previously known artifacts.
One team of European researchers concentrated on painted artwork in three caves in northern, southern and west-central Spain.
The artwork is rudimentary, but a study author, Dirk Hoffmann of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said it's symbolic.
What's more, a number of hand stencils seem to have been placed with care rather than randomly, so they are certainly "meaningful symbols," the authors wrote. The ladder shape dates to older than 64,000 years and was made by Neanderthals, but it is unclear if the animals and other symbols were painted later. Neanderthals lived in Europe and Asia before disappearing about 40,000 years ago, around the time H. (Martin Meissner Associated Press) That's a surprise that "constitutes a major breakthrough in the field of human evolution studies," said Wil Roebroeks of Leiden University in the Netherlands, an expert on Neanderthals who didn't participate in the new work.On the right is a drawing of Panel 78 by Breuil et al. Now, he said in an email, Neanderthal "ownership of some cave art is a fact." The second study provided evidence that Neanderthals used pigments and piercings to modify shells some 115,000 years ago, which is far earlier than similar artifacts are associated with anywhere. So there's no way could have made them or influenced Neanderthals to merely copy their artwork. The key finding: New age estimates that show paintings on cave walls and decorated seashells in Spain were created long before our species entered Europe.