Neanderthal-built stone rings found in cave
By T.K. Randall
May 25, 2016 · 16 comments
The Neanderthals were far from primitive. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Tim Evanson
Remarkable prehistoric structures made from stalagmites have been discovered inside a cave in France.
Our Neanderthal cousins, far from being simple 'cavemen', were likely to have been the intellectual equals of modern humans - a conclusion further cemented this week by a new discovery in France.
Deep within the darkness of Bruniquel Cave near the Pyrénées mountains, scientists have unearthed several stone ring structures that are believed to date back over 175,000 years.
The prehistoric builders of these rings were no dimwits, having harvested the tops of stalagmites before arranging them in a circle on the cave floor - all while illuminated only by the light of a fire.
"Their presence at 336m from the entrance of the cave indicates that humans from this period had already mastered the underground environment, which can be considered a major step in human modernity," the researchers wrote.
It is likely that several individuals were involved in the construction of the rings and that the cave would have provided not only a place to build but also warmth and shelter as well.
"At around 175,000 years, these must have been made by early Neanderthals, the only known human inhabitants of Europe at this time," said Prof Chris Stringer.
Source: BBC News
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