Thursday, July 29, 2021

Unicorn Bones?

 From Live Science:

A German cave once famous for its "unicorn bones" during medieval times is home to a far-rarer non-mythical treasure: a piece of symbolic artwork created by Neanderthals, a new study finds. 

The artwork, a chevron design, was carved into the toe bone of the now-extinct giant deer (Megaloceros giganteus), said the researchers. The team dated the bone to 51,000 years ago, a time when Homo sapiens hadn't yet ventured into the region, suggesting that the Neanderthals had carved the bone on their own, without influence or help from anatomically modern humans, the researchers wrote in the study, published online Monday (July 5) in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The symbolic artwork suggests Neanderthals had a greater cognitive capacity than previously thought. 

"Neanderthals were very smart," study lead researcher Dirk Leder, an archaeologist at the State Service for Cultural Heritage Lower Saxony in Hanover, Germany, told Live Science. "They were able to communicate and express themselves by symbols. They were probably cognitively very similar to us as a human species." (Read more.)


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