40 – Oldest cave art by Neandertals

64,000 years ago

A series of red lines forming a ladder-like image may not look like much, but this rudimentary cave painting is actually the oldest known form of art in the human fossil record. What makes this even more surprising is that the original artist may not have been from the human lineage at all. Given the time period and location of the cave, there is no evidence that humans had inhabited the area at the time the cave art was done. Then who painted these symbols on the cave wall? The mostly likely artists were the Neandertals. This raises questions about Neandertal cognition and capabilities of symbolic thought. However, no cave paintings by Neandertals feature representational images of animals, plants, or people.

Image credit P. Saura image https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/neanderthals-cave-art-humans-evolution-science


    Pleistocene2.58 million to 11,700 years ago

Environmental and Climate Changes

  • Earth’s climate remains relatively stable with alternating glacial and interglacial periods
  • Glacial/interglacial cycles changed 100,000 to 41,000 years

Changing Species