Our Neanderthal cousin also had an aesthetic sense!

A study conducted by a team of French researchers shows that Neanderthal Man had an aesthetic and perhaps symbolic meaning. This brings us a little closer to this close cousin who disappeared 38,000 years ago.

In the review Plos One, a team of French researchers led by Francesco d’Errico, a paleontologist from the University of Bordeaux, publishes the results of their work which attributes a sense of aesthetics to Neanderthal Man. This conclusion is drawn from the analysis of a 40,000 year old crow bone fragment.

Unearthed at an archaeological site in Crimea, Ukraine, this 1.5 cm long fragment has eight regular notches made with a flint. A microscopic analysis made it possible to determine that the author of these notches had previously made six of them before realizing that he had left too many spaces between some, which were filled with two other notches so that the distance among all is equal.

To continue their work, the researchers asked volunteers to do the same thing, namely to make eight equidistant cuts on turkey bones of the same size. As a result, these volunteers spaced and dug the eight notches in exactly the same way as Neanderthals.

 » We have thus been able to demonstrate that the Neanderthal did indeed make cuts with the intention of creating a visually and perhaps symbolically harmonious pattern. There was at least an aesthetic purpose behind these marks because of their regularity and the fact of producing this regularity in a deliberate way (…), which moreover required a certain expertise explains Francesco d’Errico. This conclusion confirms the theories of many researchers after the discovery of many bird bones with regular marks on several Neanderthal sites in Europe.

 » This research is the first to produce a direct indication confirming the hypothesis of a symbolic intention in these voluntary modifications of a bird bone (…), which is a step forward “, continues the paleontologist.  » These may have been marks of ownership of the object, which in this case symbolized the person possessing it « .


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