We’ve long believed that one of the characteristics that separates us – Homo sapiens – from other species is our ability to create art. However, artworks found deep within some Spanish caves have astonished scientists. Why? Because these discoveries mean that we have to think again about our theories of human exceptionalism.
Cave art has been found in many parts of the world, and until recently it was always assumed that only we humans created it. Some of the most famous cave art was discovered in the Chauvet Cave in Southern France, and we can be almost certain that this work was produced by Homo sapiens.
We know that the art at Chauvet was created by Homo sapiens because the cave paintings there have been dated authoritatively to about 30,000 years ago. At that time, the only hominin – or human-like – species on Earth was Homo sapiens. So, it follows that it must have been these humans who created the stunning wall paintings.