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Did Neandertals Paint Early Cave Art?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the everyone's-a-critic dept.

Earth 126

sciencehabit writes "Dating experts working in Spain, using a technique relatively new to archaeology, have pushed dates for the earliest cave art back some 4000 years to at least 41,000 years ago, raising the possibility that the artists were Neandertals rather than modern humans. And a few researchers say that the study argues for the slow development of artistic skill over tens of thousands of years — not a swift acquisition of talent, as some had argued."

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No! (0)

zenlessyank (748553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349337)

They just showed up magically like the rest of the periodical table elements!!

No, it must be Adam and Eve ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40349351)

I swear it must be them !!

Re:No! (4, Funny)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350571)

"Dating experts working in Spain"

I haven't figured out what dating experts know about neanderthals. Yeah, sure, some early "modern humans" may have dated some neanderthals. In fact, there have been a few reports that we all have neanderthal genes in our makeup. But, today's dating experts? What do they know about neanderthals? Maybe - just maybe - those dating experts know something about Spaniards, but forget the neanderthals.

Re:No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40352407)

Dating experts working in Spain! using a technique relatively new to archaeology! have pushed dates for the earliest cave art back some 4000 years to at least 41,000 years ago!

When you replace the semicolons with exclamation points you get a better idea what they're really after: date hot (choose your favorite gender) experts who are probably doctors as well and work in Spain, use nice new gadgets and push some dates back while at it.

Re:No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40353449)

In fact, there have been a few reports that we all have neanderthal genes in our makeup.

OMG, which makeup? the foundation? blusher? eyeliner?

Re:No! (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#40353899)

I haven't figured out what dating experts know about Neanderthals.

I think the question "How many Neanderthals have you successfully dated to this day?" should settle that.

mdash (2, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349361)

And a few researchers say that the study argues for the slow development of artistic skill over tens of thousands of years mdash; not a swift acquisition of talent, as some had argued.

It may now be considered proper to spell and pronounce Neandertal with a 't' not a 'th' sound, but 'mdash' is still normally written as '—'.

Re:mdash (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40349379)

Ellipsis that apostrophe s some editing comma slash dot period

Re:mdash (1, Informative)

schroedingers_hat (2449186) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350693)

TWENTY DASH SEVEN DASH CHARACTERS OUGHT TO BE ENOUGH FOR ANYONE STOP

Now to avoid the lameness filter comma I apostrophe m going to have to say something productive mdash or at least make a more extended version of the parent apostrophe s joke stop carriage return Nope nothing productive comes to mind stop

Re:mdash (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 2 years ago | (#40354143)

slashdot can't display a proper ellipsis, just try using … in a comment.

Re:mdash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40349381)

Sentences aren't supposed to begin with 'and' either.

Re:mdash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40349535)

Sentences aren't supposed to begin with 'and' either.

And nobody cares.

Re:mdash (3, Informative)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349767)

And yet they can.

Re:mdash (0, Offtopic)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351095)

And yet they can.

Yet they can.

FTFY. Just because they can, doesn't mean they should. What does that spurious "And" add to the meaning of that sentence? Nothing.

Re:mdash (3, Informative)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351307)

And yet, you're wrong.

Re:mdash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40351309)

Nothing isn't a sentence. Al least practice your religion correctly.

CAPTCHA = hornet, ow! What a stinger~

Re:mdash (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40351337)

It's a nice echo of "And yet it moves" attributed to Galileo, albeit fictitiously.

Nothing wrong an "And" at the start of a sentence, or even a whole work, e.g. Blake's Jerusalem ("And did those feet ...")

P.S. Captcha: writable

Re:mdash (2)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40352525)

And now I get the feeling that linguistic prescriptivists are even more wrong than biblical literalists and climate denialists put together.

Re:mdash (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351241)

"And" should never be used to start a sentence?

Re:mdash (1)

redneckmother (1664119) | more than 2 years ago | (#40353863)

A preposition is the wrong kind of word to end a sentence with.

Re:mdash (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349411)

It may now be considered proper to spell and pronounce Neandertal with a 't' not a 'th' sound, but 'mdash' is still normally written as 'â"'.

Us Neandertal autor is are offended by your racial oppression of our linguistic atred of the 8t letter of the alpabet.

Re:mdash (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40349533)

Us Neandertal autor is are offended by your racial oppression of our linguistic atred of the 8t letter of t h e alpabet.

Alphabet Humour Fail !!

Re:mdash (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349653)

That's just a spelling error you insensitive clod! :)

Re:mdash (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40349825)

Neandertal is a valley close to Düsseldorf, Germany. In 1901, an orthographic reform changed the name from Neanderthal to Neandertal ("Tal" is German for "valley"). The Neanderthal man however had been discovered long before and keeps his original name with the "th".

Re:mdash (5, Informative)

zephvark (1812804) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350449)

It may be appropriate to note that Germans typically don't pronounce "th" as Americans do. It's like "we" versus "whee", the "h" part is an aspiration mark. A common spelling error, for English-speaking Germans, is to put a "th" in where a "t" sound belongs. Neanderthal has always been pronounced Neandertal, they just changed the spelling.

Re:mdash (4, Informative)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40352595)

Ehem, sorry, as a native German speaker I feel the need to add that the h in "th" is not an aspiration marker. Phonetically, there is no difference between"t" and "th" in German. It's just a relic of orthography. Both are pronounced as unvoiced alveolar plosive /t/.

Re:mdash (2)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350063)

Mdash may be the name of the artist.

Re:mdash (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40350101)

Neandertal is and has always been the correct spelling. It's nothing new. It's from the German, from the place where they were first discovered, the Neander Valley, or Neander "Tal" ('Tal' means valley in German). However, in German it is common and appropriate to combine words to form compound nouns, as Fahrrad, (from 'fahrt', a trip, and 'rad', wheel) or Schadenfreude (from 'Schade', sadness, and 'Freude', joy). Hence, the words are combined to form the place-name of Neandertal. The spelling with the 'h' is anglicized, technically Neandertal is correct, inasmuch as it is the original name, from the original language.

Why not educate yourself before correcting other people's spelling, smart-ass...

Re:mdash (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350193)

Neandertal is and has always been the correct spelling. It's nothing new. It's from the German, from the place where they were first discovered, the Neander Valley, or Neander "Tal" ('Tal' means valley in German). However, in German it is common and appropriate to combine words to form compound nouns, as Fahrrad, (from 'fahrt', a trip, and 'rad', wheel) or Schadenfreude (from 'Schade', sadness, and 'Freude', joy). Hence, the words are combined to form the place-name of Neandertal. The spelling with the 'h' is anglicized, technically Neandertal is correct, inasmuch as it is the original name, from the original language.

Why not educate yourself before correcting other people's spelling, smart-ass...

Ouch. Fortunately my education is on my side on this one. The Germans can spell and pronounce the name of their valley however they want, but the scientific name of the Neanderthals is "Homo Neanderthalensis", and when using the name outside of the scientific community either way is acceptable, although the hard 't' sound and spelling has only entered popular usage relatively recently. You can look it up on wikipedia if you want - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal [wikipedia.org] . If it makes you feel better you can go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neandertal [wikipedia.org] , then click the link to take you to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal [wikipedia.org] .

Re:mdash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40351121)

Grammer Nazi's are off-topic. And annoying. It's a living language, get used to it.

Re:mdash (1)

expatriot (903070) | more than 2 years ago | (#40352257)

"Living language" is not an excuse to be sloppy and inaccurate. Some things don't matter, some do. Typos are OK though.

Re:mdash (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40352399)

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."

--James D. Nicoll

Re:mdash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40353457)

Spelling is trivial, like yourself.

Re:mdash (2)

blutfink (793915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351163)

Schadenfreude (from 'Schade', sadness, and 'Freude', joy).

Not accurate. "Schaden" just means "harm" or "damage". And in this context, a better translation for "Freude" would be "pleasure".

Neandertal is and has always been the correct spelling. [...] The spelling with the 'h' is anglicized, technically Neandertal is correct, inasmuch as it is the original name, from the original language.

Not correct. It used to be 'Neanderthal' in German before the spelling reform of 1901. This spelling has been kept in some places, e.g. for the local train station. The English speaking world has just kept the old spelling, which is consistent with the scientific name.

Re:mdash (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351063)

And a few researchers say that the study argues for the slow development of artistic skill over tens of thousands of years mdash; not a swift acquisition of talent, as some had argued.

It may now be considered proper to spell and pronounce Neandertal with a 't' not a 'th' sound, but 'mdash' is still normally written as '—'.

They may be able to paint but they can't spell for shit.

Difficult to say (1)

pegasustonans (589396) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349405)

Possibly somewhat impossible to determine, but it should precipitate further inquiry into potential points of cultural exchange between species.

Perhaps neanderthals are the key to making Linux the most popular desktop... now we'll never know.

Of course ... (3, Funny)

mister2au (1707664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349407)

There have been vandals as long as there have been things to vandalise ...

Neanderthals lived in social groups so there were Neanderthal kids being dragged around by Neanderthal parents and this was before the internet and even before TV ... you work it out - bored kids + pristine cave walls !

Re:Of course ... (5, Informative)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349961)

Vandals didn't enter Spain until 409 AD.

This article is about art dated to roughly forty millennia before they arrived.

Re:Of course ... (1)

mister2au (1707664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350103)

well played, sir, well played !

Another fun fact: Women were the artists (2)

quixote9 (999874) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351785)

The morphometrics of the hand prints shows those first artists were women, Neandertal (or -thal), but not Vandal (or -dhal).

Over hyped (3, Interesting)

micheas (231635) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349433)

The artwork dates to when neanderthals were in Europe, but not before the earliest evidence of homo sapiens in Europe.

It seems unlikely that the art was done by neanderthals, and if it was it was probably done by neanderthals imitating homo sapiens. (there is a reason that "to ape' means to copy.

I make this assumption based on the fact that cave art seems to show up with other evince of homo sapiens, but there have been no finds of cave art that are dated earlier than any evidence of humans.

Also, the theory of complexity of art is obviously pulled out of said scientists arses . Scientists that claim that an drawing of a circle as art predates recognizable drawings of the physical world are obviously more recent need to take a look at the verifiable date of the Mona Lisa, and any single geometric shape at a MOMA and explain why their hypothosis that directly contradicts verifiable data about artwork should be viewed as anything other than B.S.

Re:Over hyped (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40349537)

For all the "out of Africa" theory, it's interesting to note that all the places that Neanderthals have occupied had real civilizations and the one place modern humans supposedly came from really had none worth mentioning.

Add to that the fact that all human races have neanderthal genes except for Africans.

Now talk to me again about your pompous assertion that neanderthals only "aped" us.

Re:Over hyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40349623)

It's funny what tortured lengths racists will go to in order to foster their narrative.

When did you have to give up on the Aldebaran idea?

Re:Over hyped (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40349739)

I don't need to go to tortured lengths. I just have to look at Hurricane Katrina or Haiti vs Japanese Tsunami aftermath in how the people dealt with it.

Or look at black run countries. Like South Africa. Check out the crime stats there.

Or do some crime stats here.

Or check out Bell Curves on intelligence. Scientists who dared to draw obvious conclusions from those studies have been pretty much blacklisted in today's PC environment.

But liberal apologists such as yourself will cite "Socio-economic reasons" and like a magic tonic, that vague and generic word makes your critical thinking go away in a rash of feel-good bullshit.

BTW, I never heard of Aldebaran before now. I'm not into pseudo-science or fantasy. But I'll note 20 years back scientists were saying that neanderthal disappeared or went extinct.

It's also interesting that you don't refute anything I said and just go ad hom right out the bat. Telling.

Re:Over hyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40351425)

Your post is full of 100% facts. Very good.

Re:Over hyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40351965)

I completely agree with everything you say, and I'm a "liberal"... please don't tar us all with the same brush.

Re:Over hyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40353209)

You've never heard of Aldebaran?

Some informed scientist you are, not even keeping track of stars in the sky.

There's no point in refuting you, you're cherry-picking your facts to suit your conclusions, and are impervious to reasoning. It's an obvious and recognized pattern. Even your response complaining about the ad hominem is part of that pattern.

Poor you, a victim of insults when you've got the truth behind you, if only those evil liberal apologists weren't around, the world would be so much better as everybody would listen to your profound insights!

Which lack one thing...actual substance.

Re:Over hyped (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349741)

Disregarding the Ancient Egyptians, Axum, et al.

Re:Over hyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40349929)

Egyptians weren't black. Axum was founded by semites (read: middle easterners).

Re:Over hyped Egyptian Negros (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350731)

True, a rude pre-historic local society existed in the Nile Valley southward **long before** a nest of Semite cave-dwellers crossed the Red Sea, incubated in the eastern hills and set up shop along the middle Egyptian Nile. Make that crossing date say ... 8,000 BC. Cultural shiit started happening then.

dear moderators: if you cant detect blatant racist (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350975)

idiocy and pseudoscience, then i have to wonder if the slashdot system itself has some kind of inherent internal flaw.

Re:dear moderators: if you cant detect blatant rac (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40352677)

It is "racism" to notice that at a certain period in history one race made achievements in civilization that another did not? But one thing is for sure, we can always count on psuedo-intellectuals like yourself raising the "racism" smokescreen in lieu of intellegent discussion of the topic.

Re:dear moderators: if you cant detect blatant rac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40352691)

I notice you don't address any points, you just name call and then blame the system in order to spread propaganda.

Re:Over hyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40352857)

Somehow you conveniently forgot all the cultures of Africa and somehow you think gene exchange with the neanderthals have more influence on cultures than the environment. Though I agree about the usage of "aped" word which clearly comes from the interactions with chimpanzees.

Re:Over hyped (5, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349543)

The artwork dates to when neanderthals were in Europe, but not before the earliest evidence of homo sapiens in Europe.

It seems unlikely that the art was done by neanderthals, and if it was it was probably done by neanderthals imitating homo sapiens. (there is a reason that "to ape' means to copy.

I make this assumption based on the fact that cave art seems to show up with other evince of homo sapiens, but there have been no finds of cave art that are dated earlier than any evidence of humans.

You come across as very prejudiced and biased - and also wrong.
TFA states that this happened at least 41,000 years ago, and the oldest human (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) remains found in Europe is no more than 36,000 years old.

Another issue is that you can't apply a dualistic "either/or" - humans of European heritage have from 1-4% Neanderthal DNA. While this isn't a significant portion, it does show that interbreeding was possible and happened, and there must have been fertile individuals who were 50% of each.
But based solely on the age, the evidence points more towards Neanderthals than modern man.

Re:Over hyped (4, Informative)

lanswitch (705539) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350431)

The oldest evidence of modern humans in Europe is over 43.000, not 36.000 years old. There is no evidence that the Neandertal was responsible for the Aurigniac, but a lot of evidence that connects the Aurigniac with modern humans.

http://dienekes.blogspot.nl/2012/05/43000-year-old-aurignacian-in-swabian.html [blogspot.nl]

Re:Over hyped (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40354231)

What evidence? What I see in that article is speculation and begging the question by presuming that a set of infant teeth is from h. s. sapiens and then using that as evidence for h. s. sapiens were present at that time.

Wikipedia has this (I know better than to take Wikipedia as gospel, but they have some references too):

"There is no longer certainty regarding the identity of the humans who produced the Aurignacian culture, even though the presumed westward spread of anatomically modern humans (AMHs) across Europe is still based on the controversial first dates of the Aurignacian. Currently, the oldest European anatomically modern Homo sapiens is represented by a robust modern-human mandible discovered at PeÅYtera cu Oase (southwest Romania), dated to 34,000â"36,000 years ago. Human skeletal remains from the German site of Vogelherd, so far regarded as the best association between anatomically modern Homo sapiens and Aurignacian culture, were revealed to represent intrusive Neolithic burials into the Aurignacian levels and subsequently all the key Vogelherd fossils are now dated to 3,900â"5,000 years ago instead."

All in all I don't think we have enough information to draw any bastant conclusions. And that we should be very careful not to - consciously or not - fall into chauvinism and a bias towards paining homo sapiens sapiens in a better light because it's us and not them.
Wait for more data before drawing conclusions that may in part be collective narcissism.

Re:Over hyped (2)

l00sr (266426) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350535)

If Neanderthals and humans could mate and have fertile offspring, then why aren't they considered the same species?

Re:Over hyped (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40350815)

If Neanderthals and humans could mate and have fertile offspring, then why aren't they considered the same species?

Because nobody other than high school biology teachers uses that definition of species since the discovery of ring species.

Re:Over hyped (4, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40352435)

If Neanderthals and humans could mate and have fertile offspring, then why aren't they considered the same species?

Because 'species' is a loaded word.

The species problem [wikipedia.org]

tl;dr - Complicated natural phenomena are hard to reduce to a single word.

Re:Over hyped (3)

the phantom (107624) | more than 2 years ago | (#40352563)

By many, they are considered the same species. That is why you will see some people refer to modern humans as Homo sapiens sapiens, and Neanderthals as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.

Re:Over hyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40350939)

Also remember, most humans learn language and other skills by "merely imitating" their parents and other people they see.
So what's the shame in "aping" again? That's what all of us apes do ;)

Answer: (-1, Flamebait)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349449)

No, but they did form the Tea Party ;-)

Re:Answer: (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349559)

No, but they did form the Tea Party ;-)

Why do you malign Neanderthals thus?
I think the evidence points to them having very high political ideals - for one thing, they did not have lawyers.

Re:Answer: (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350077)

They also invented (or co-invented) music, were willing to explore the possibilities Europe had to offer, and ate grains with their meat.

Well, if neanderthals DID paint those cave walls.. (3, Funny)

SlithyMagister (822218) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349521)

Then get them back there RIGHT NOW and make them clean it up.

Probably not (0)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349627)

Neanderthals were in Europe by themselves for hundreds of thousands of years without making caving paintings. We're to suppose that they happened to pick up the habit just when modern humans moved into the area. That would be a massive coincidence. It's possible, but unlikely.

Re:Probably not (2)

Alan R Light (1277886) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349701)

Um, it looks like they may have started making cave paintings about 5000 years before modern humans moved into the area.

I know that at a distance 5000 years may not seem like much, but in fact a lot can happen in 5000 years.

Re:Probably not (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350145)

There is also very little in common between the earliest cave art attributed to Homo Sapiens and any of the cave art attributed to Neanderthals - very different styles, very different formats, very different in nature all round.

The paintings in France also include proto-writing next to the paintings, but no such symbols exist here.

Most important of all, the paintings attributed to Neanderthals include fish that Neanderthals ate at the time and Homo Sapiens did not.

So if Neanderthals are present and Homo Sapiens are not, we've opportunity taken care of.
Neanderthals had been mucking around with ochre at the time, Homo Sapiens didn't utilize it for a long time after, so that's means.
The pictures show Neanderthal food not Homo Sapien food, which gives motive.
No proto-writing and no utilization of the 3D nature of the rock surface means no continuity with the French cave paintings, so Homo Sapiens are sans continuity.

I'd say that nails it.

Also, that isn't artwork (1)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350871)

The cave paintings in France clearly showed artistic ability, even genius. These Neanderthal artifacts, though, obviously involve nothing more than picking up a spray can and spraying it around his hand. If you doubt me when I say that isn't art, just try selling something like that at Southeby's. ... Never mind.

Re:Also, that isn't artwork (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40352457)

These Neanderthal artifacts, though, obviously involve nothing more than picking up a spray can and spraying it around his hand.

And who made the spray can? Mr. Homo Sapiens? They didn't even have bronze yet - no way they're going to make a steel can.

Re:Also, that isn't artwork (1)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 2 years ago | (#40352655)

That is part of the joke, but at that, it really may have been applied by a DeWalt airbrush. I also wanted to add in a different joke about early attempts at fingerprinting, and more successful examples at the Hoover building in DC. Maybe that would have been better.

Re:Probably not (1)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 2 years ago | (#40353861)

Where did you get the 5,000 year figure? The article itself cites clear evidence of human habitation in Europe 41,600 years ago, which is before the earliest painting's date of 40,800 years ago. There are sites even earlier than that. Plus, there is a fundamental problem in that preservation events are rare, so humans were no doubt in the area long before we'd ever find evidence of them.

Meanwhile, Neanderthals had been around in Europe for 300,000 years. Even if your number were right, for 98.3% of their existence, Neanderthals didn't bother making cave paintings.

Re:Probably not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40349711)

Neanderthals were in Europe by themselves for hundreds of thousands of years without making caving paintings. We're to suppose that they happened to pick up the habit just when modern humans moved into the area. That would be a massive coincidence. It's possible, but unlikely.

Maybe the Neanderthals couldn't verbalize their ideas very well so they learned to draw them? Sorry, no reference, but I remember reading something about possibly Neanderthal not having developed the physical voice box that we have?

Re:Probably not (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349947)

Maybe the Neanderthals couldn't verbalize their ideas very well so they learned to draw them?

Ug sees bear advancing towards Og.
Ug pulls out a piece of ochre and starts scribbling frantically.
Og looks puzzled.
Bear eats Og.
Ug sighs and walks away.

Now we know why they're extinct.

or we haven't discovered them yet. (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350981)

just pause for a moment and consider the possibilities.

Motivation (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351853)

Until homo sapiens moved in, there was nobody willing to buy their art. Who knows? Given enough time, they might have realized that the stupid humans will even pay good money for 'art' painted by chips. Or Adam Sandler movies.

We’re not alone (1)

kstahmer (134975) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349919)

In the mid-1950s abstract expressionism [metmuseum.org] was the rage. Congo [treehugger.com] was a successful artist. Here are some of his paintings [artistsezine.com] . Some sold for about $30,000. Most impressive, given Congo was a chimpanzee. It’s not surprising if Neanderthals did early cave art, cave art surpassing its contemporary human art. After all Congo has already established, artistic talent isn’t restricted to Homo sapiens sapiens [wadsworth.com] .

Re:We’re not alone (4, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349995)

theres a bit of difference tween a chimp ploping paint strokes in a semi random fashion to make modern "art" and the cave paintings clearly depicting characters doing specific actions. When Congo starts drawing his family actively hunting a beast and roasting it over a fire then I will concede your argument.

Re:We’re not alone (1)

kstahmer (134975) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350125)

Congo’s plopped semi random fashioned paint stokes sold for $30,000 in the mid-1950s. That’s indubitable financial success. As to whether Congo’s art constitutes ‘genuine’ art, that’s a matter of idiosyncrasy, usually left to art critics, not /. posters. Human hubris is seductive. We overestimate our own talents, while underestimating the talents of other species.

Re:We’re not alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40350913)

Congo’s plopped semi random fashioned paint stokes sold for $30,000 in the mid-1950s. That’s indubitable financial success.

Humans also paid money for pet rocks. The financial success of something is an excellent measure of its financial success and nothing else.

As to whether Congo’s art constitutes ‘genuine’ art...

That isn't the point. I tend to believe everything is art as long as any one person believes it is. Arguing something isn't art isn't left to critics, it's left to idiots who don't understand what art is. If it means something to someone, it's art.

The point is whether Congo understood that paint strokes could be made to mean something, or whether it merely liked the pretty colors and made semi-random strokes. The former implies intelligence at a relatively high level, the latter is absolutely nothing special. It might be art, but it doesn't imply anything about chimps that is particularly impressive.

If you do want to hear about truly impressive things, look up some of the economic experiments done with chimps, and how they share some of the same reasoning bugs as humans do. For example, if you give a chimp a choice of playing two different games, one in which the chimp is given a grape, plus a 50% chance of winning a second grape vs a game in which the chimp is given two grapes, plus a 50% chance of losing a grape, they will tend to greatly prefer the first game, even those the chances of ending up with 2 grapes is the same. Humans share the same risk-aversion behavior associated with "loss" of a grape, with a general inability to instinctively grasp the true probabilities.

Re:We’re not alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40352523)

Arguing something isn't art isn't left to critics, it's left to idiots who don't understand what art is. If it means something to someone, it's art.

So the term 'art' is meaningless, then. Good to know.

Re:We’re not alone (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40352625)

Goes to show the power of markets when it comes to putting a value on things. Laughable.

Re:We’re not alone (1)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351015)

I was under the impression that Congo's favorite foods included bamboo stands and the raw fruits and vegetables at lunchtime. I'd advise you to take another look at those paintings. "Bold circular loop" perhaps would be better named Ripe banana and green Pepper Still Life.

not swift (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40349971)

well, IMO that makes since, trying to eat while not being eaten kind of trumps cave art in my book of priorities in the ages before cultivation. Of course that all depends on the definition of swift ... thats a bit open ended considering the time scales involved. IE a handful of generations, or a handful of centuries?

Stop asking questions in the title. Its anoying. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40350151)

Either you have something to say or you don't. "Could it be?" articles instantly give the impression that your on the same ground as "Did aliens build the pyramids?" which will be followed (after an hour of time wasting) with "we may never know."

No. (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350215)

but they did do some cave hentai tentacle drawings

Dating experts, eh? (2)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350295)

Can they fix us up with some cute Neandert(h)al girls? If not, they ain't no experts.

Irrelevant (4, Funny)

toriver (11308) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350345)

The cave paintings are long out of copyright, and as we all know, only works under copyright hold any value.

Yours,
The entertainment industry organizations.

Re:Irrelevant (3, Funny)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350827)

obviously, we need to make copyright longer, to keep people from making changes to our heritage!

Re:Irrelevant (3, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351791)

The Bono Extension of Neanderthal copyright Terms (BENT) would increase copyright to 50 millennia to foster the creativity of extinct species.

Windows 8 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40350551)

For sure they did! Microsoft used a time machine to get a neanderthal for designing metro!
Finally NT=Neanderthal Technology becomes true!

The cave art is fake anyway (1)

GoodnaGuy (1861652) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350563)

This supposed stone age art work is a fake, made by local land owners to make some tourist euros ;) Not sure how they date this but am guessing its unreliable.

Get some confirmation. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 2 years ago | (#40350657)

Look there is no other evidence of Neanderthals doing such paintings elsewhere, there is no record of the development of such techniques in Neanderthal artefacts. Their tool kit had not changed for hundreds of thousands of years. Under these circumstances, we need to independently confirm the dating techniques are good and reliable. Otherwise it would end up as an egg in their faces like the claim of faster than light travel reported last year. It turned out to be clock calibration issue. Go through the dating procedure and the assumptions, and data more carefully first before engaging in colorful speculations.

Re:Get some confirmation. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40350735)

Remind me, what's your PhD in? While you're at it, what's your Masters in?

Re:Get some confirmation. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351053)

Ah, the appeal to authority.

Wouldn't be the first examples of art (2)

Grayhand (2610049) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351089)

Neanderthals were known for shaping stone artwork, the neanderthal Venus are quite well known, so there's no reason to think they lacked the ability to paint. Developmentally Neanderthals were very close to modern humans. There is debate about some problem solving and complex tool making but in many ways they were hard to separate from humans. They even developed music and the flute.

Autistic Cavemen... (1)

libtek (902569) | more than 2 years ago | (#40351291)

So who's to say that the only preserved drawings we discovered were from a Master Artist of the time? What if it's the random scribblings of a child or not-to-artistic adult even (If you looked at my wall scrawlings, absent carbon dating, you would also think they were created by a less-evolved species)

No, Neandertals were stupid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40353729)

To see that neandertals were stupid and incapable of art all one has to do is look at the fucktarded asspies of today. They are not capable of doing anything other than one handed claps and all sorts of other asspie feats. none of which are productive to either self or society. Why are neandertals and asspies being compared? Simple, assburgers is from the remaining neandertal genes that have yet to die off. This is why crackers are the only ones that have assburgers.

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