Inside a cavern on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, scientists have actually found among the oldest known creative depictions of a real-world things or organism. It’s a painting of a warty pig, an animal still found on Sulawesi, that was rendered on the cavern’s back wall at least 45,500 years ago, scientists report January 13 in Science Advances

The discovery contributes to proof that “the very first modern-day human cavern art customs did not emerge in Ice Age Europe, as long supposed, however perhaps previously in Asia or perhaps in Africa, where our species developed,” states research study author Adam Brumm, an archaeologist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.

At least two, and potentially three, other partly maintained pig paintings appear on the cavern wall near the recently dated figure. Placed, painted animals dating to approximately 30,000 years ago or more appear in scenes in France’s Chauvet Cave, states Davidson, who did not take part in the new study.

On the ceiling of a small chamber in another Sulawesi cavern, the researchers discovered a large pig painting– like the others, performed in red or dark red and purple mineral pigments– that dates to in between 32,000 and 73,400 years ago. At least two other badly protected paintings of unidentified animals lie on the chamber’s ceiling and wall.

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The group considers it likely that Homo sapiens, rather than a carefully associated species such as Homo floresiensis( SN: 6/8/16), painted on the Sulawesi cave walls.

Like a painted hunting scene from a minimum of 43,900 years earlier formerly discovered in a different Sulawesi cavern ( SN: 12/11/19), minimum age price quotes for the pig paintings are based upon measures of radioactive uranium’s decay in cauliflower-like mineral growths that formed in thin layers over and below parts of the representations.

Uranium-based dating of ancient cave art has actually drawn criticism ( SN: 10/28/19). Brumm’s group dated 3 mineral layers partly covering one of the pig paintings to approximate its minimum age.

A mix of slightly older and younger age estimates can result from gaps that form in succeeding mineral layers, Brumm’s group says. Averaging the dates of numerous layers offers an affordable, possibly understated minimum age estimate for the underlying art, the scientists compete.

Eventually, cavern art such as the pigs on islands in Southeast Asia and Australia, and most likely Sulawesi too, may be revealed to date to as early as around 60,000 to 70,000 years earlier, says archaeologist Peter Veth of the University of Western Australia in Perth. That’s when H. sapiens initially settled the region, probably bringing mainland cavern art customs with them rather than unexpectedly developing the practice on separated islands, he recommends.


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