Science of dating cave paintings

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What makes the dating of the Spanish cave paintings important is that it's around the time when modern humans first came into Europe from Africa.

Study authors say they could have been from modern man decorating their new digs or they could have been the working of the longtime former tenant of Europe: the Neanderthal.

For example, scientists dated the materials used to draw the animals, like charcoal collected from fires.

This dating method, which is based on the radioactive decay of uranium over time, has been around for decades.

But only recently have scientists refined the technique such that they can apply it to samples small enough to get sufficiently precise results.

"But I will not say we have proven it because we haven't."In a telephone press conference, Mr. But there's a debate in the scientific community about Neanderthals.

Zilhao said Neanderthals recently have gotten "bad press" over their abilities. Other anthropologists say Zilhao is in a minority of researchers who believe in more complex abilities of Neanderthals.

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