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The danger of disorder is something we’ve thought a lot about.
The most recent painting is 64,800 years old, according to this technique, and the oldest is more than 66,000 years old.
Rock art “is unique, it’s precious — there’s a lot of pressure on you not to make a mistake,” says geochronologist Dirk Hoffmann at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
So he and his colleagues fiddled with the method until only tiny scrapings of cave walls were needed.
The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence upending the idea that Neanderthals were less evolved than early modern humans, says Marie Soressi, an archaeology professor at the University of Leiden who was not involved in the research.
“It’s impossible to say that one is more clever than the other,” she says.
They have also been largely restricted to words, images being too expensive and film impossible.