16 Jun 2012

Cave paintings much older than previously thought

5:40 am on 16 June 2012

Scientists using a new dating technique are reporting that many of the most famous cave paintings in Spain are thousands of years older than previously thought.

A study published in Science Magazine says the paintings - some believed to be more than 40,000 years old - are ancient enough to have been created not by Homo sapiens, but by Neanderthals, the species that lived in Europe long before the newcomers arrived from Africa.

Figuring out who painted the hand stencils, shapes, and animals in such famous caves as Altamira in Spain could shed light on several enigmas of human evolution.