New Evidence Suggests Neanderthals Might Have Made Art

It’s a long-held belief that Neanderthals (extinct humans who existed some 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago) were “unable to express symbolism through art,” but a group of researchers have just found what they believe is art that dates back 51,000 years ago. The object—found in Germany’s “Unicorn Cave”—is a prehistoric deer’s toe bone that has lines carved into it. The purpose or meaning is unclear, as it’s (so far) a unique finding. Researchers believe the carving could represent a woman, landscape, or any number of things. The study’s co-author Thomas Terberger says, “It’s clearly a decoration with a kind of symbolic character…You might even call it the initial start of art, something which was not done by accident, but with a clear plan in mind.” Read more, and see a rendering of the bone, at The Week.

Image courtesy of V. Minkus/Leder et al., Nature Ecology and Evolution, 2021