Decorated bird bone suggests Neanderthals had eye for aesthetics

Decorated bird bone suggests Neanderthals had eye for aesthetics

AFP | 2017-03-30 11:31:18.0

Microscopic images of the notches on the Zaskalnaya VI bird bone fragment from layer III.

Image by: Ana Majkić Sarah Evans Vadim Stepanchuk Alexander Tsvelykh Francesco d’Errico via Plos One

A 40,000 year old piece of raven bone that was etched with near-even lines suggests Neanderthals had an eye for aesthetics, French researchers said Wednesday.

Neanderthals, who were cousins of modern men and who disappeared some 38,000 years ago, are known to have used pigments and collected bird feathers and shells, sometimes burying objects with the dead.

Now, the 1.5 centimetre piece of bone found at an archaeological site in Crimea suggests they may have etched lines in a way that appeared deliberate, and may have been symbolic or decorative.

Microscopic analysis showed that six grooves were added at first, and two more later, perhaps to make the distance between them more even.

“We could therefore show that Neanderthals made etches with the intent of creating a visually harmonious — and perhaps symbolic — motif,” said researcher Francesco d’Errico, a paleontologist with the University of Bordeaux, and lead author of the study in the journal PLOS ONE.

“There was at least some esthetic reason for these marks because of their regularity, and the act of producing this in a deliberate manner requires a certain level of expertise,” he told AFP.

The study was described as “the first that provides direct evidence to support a symbolic argument for intentional…

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