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‘Baby handprint’ cave art made by lizards

A study of 13 tiny hand imprints in a Saharan cave have revealed that they are not human. Amateur explorers stumbled across the 'Cave of Beasts' in 2002, in the vast, empty desert near Egypt's southwest border with Libya.

‘Baby handprint’ cave art made by lizards
A study of tiny hand imprints in a Saharan cave have revealed that they are not 
human. Amateur explorers stumbled across the cave in 2002, in the vast, empty 
desert near Egypt's southwest border with Libya and Sudan. In this image
 the 'baby' print is shown in the center of the larger adult hand 
[Credit: Emmanuelle Honoré]
The cave, which is also known as Wadi Sura II, includes 5,000 images that were painted or engraved into stone around 8,000 years ago. Among the images are what were believed to be stencilled hands and feet of children – but new research now claims they may have been created by lizards.

Anthropologist Emmanuelle Honoré of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research said she was stunned when she saw the shape of the small prints.

‘Baby handprint’ cave art made by lizards
The cave, which is also known as Wadi Sura II, includes 5,000 images that were
 painted or engraved into stone around 8,000 years earlier. Among the images are
 what was believed to be stencilled hands and feet of children – but new research 
now claims they may have been created by lizards 
[Credit: Emmanuelle Honoré]
'They were much smaller than human baby hands, and the fingers were too long,' she told National Geographic.

Honoré compared measurements taken from the hand outlines in the cave with those taken from the hands of newborn human infants of around 37 to 41 weeks old.

‘Baby handprint’ cave art made by lizards
Scientists said there is an 'extremely low probability' that the 
hands in theCave of the Beasts were human 
[Credit: Emmanuelle Honoré]
She also included measurements taken from newborn premature babies that were 26 to 36 weeks old.

Honoré discovered that there is an 'extremely low probability' that the hands in the Cave of the Beasts were human. Instead, she believe they may have been created by the forelegs of desert monitor lizards or, possibly, the feet of young crocodiles.

‘Baby handprint’ cave art made by lizards
The cave also included drawings of hunter gatherers and headless beasts.
 In total, around 5,000 drawings were found 
[Credit: Emmanuelle Honoré]
If her analysis is correct, then this is the first time such animal imprints have been discovered in the Sahara desert.

'[This raises new perspectives for understanding the rock art at Wadi Sūra, and the behaviour and symbolic universe of the populations who made it,' she writes in her study, published in the journal Archaeological Science

‘Baby handprint’ cave art made by lizards
Anthropologist Emmanuelle Honoré of the McDonald Institute for 
Archaeological Research said she was stunned when she saw
 the shape of the unusually small prints 
[Credit: Serge Sibert/Cosmos]
The 'Cave of Beasts' is 6 miles (10 km) from the 'Cave of the Swimmers', but with far more, and better preserved, images.

The Eastern Sahara, a region the size of Western Europe that extends from Egypt into Libya, Sudan and Chad, is the world's largest warm, dry desert. Rainfall in the desert's centre averages less than 2 millimetres a year, but the region was once much less arid.

‘Baby handprint’ cave art made by lizards
Honoré is reluctant to speculate on why such a civilisation would imprint 
the legs of animals on their cave walls. 'It's very challenging for us as 
researchers to interpret these paintings since we have a culture that's
 totally different [from the one that created it],' she said 
[Credit: Emmanuelle Honoré]
About 8500 BC, seasonal rainfall appeared in the region, attracting hunter-gatherers. By 5300 BC, the rains had stopped and human settlements receded to highland areas. By 3500 BC, the settlements disappeared entirely.

The mass exodus corresponds with the rise of sedentary life along the Nile that later blossomed into pharaonic civilisation that dominated the region for thousands of years. It is believed hunter gathers held up the creatures to make the prints, many of which were found alongside adult sized human hand stencils.

‘Baby handprint’ cave art made by lizards
It is believed hunter gathers held up the creatures to make the prints, many 
of which were found alongside adult sized human hand stencils 
[Credit: Emmanuelle Honoré]
But according to the National Geographic, Honoré is reluctant to speculate on why such a civilisation would imprint the legs of animals on their cave walls.

'It's very challenging for us as researchers to interpret these paintings since we have a culture that's totally different [from the one that created it],' she said.

Author: Ellie Zolfagharifard | Source: Daily Mail [March 01, 2016]
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3 comments :

  1. They look like monkey hands to me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Has anyone asked the obvious question? Are these footprints or silhouettes made by blowing red ochre to trace the shape? If they're similar to the other (human) images then are they saying lizards learned to do this? C'mon, anybody?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't think there is any doubt these are made by blowing a red ochre mix on the hand. Per my previous comment, I think someone did this with their pet monkey.

    ReplyDelete


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