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Children Helped Decorate Prehistoric Caves of France 72

sciencehabit writes "Among the prolific paintings and other art in the 8 kilometer-long Rouffignac cave system in southwestern France are a number of unusual markings known as finger flutings, which are made by people dragging their hands through the soft silt that lines the cave's walls. By analyzing the finger flutings of modern humans, researchers discovered that the ratio of the distance between the three middle fingers indicate that many of the cave artists were very young children, one as young as 2 or 3 years old. The researchers were also able to tell the children's genders from the shape of the fingers."
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Children Helped Decorate Prehistoric Caves of France

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  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @09:55PM (#37586720) Homepage

    Unfortunately, the presentation in question doesn't seem to be online. There was a presentation on this subject at a conference at Cambridge [] which apparently includes a lot of other examples of artifacts made by children in cultures throughout human history. Can someone find the relevant papers online? The author of the work is Jess Cooney from Cambridge. There's a page [] with more details but I can't find actual preprints or the like.

    But there's one thing that this sort of thing really shows: science rocks. We can use clever tests and careful measurements to figure out details about the age of children painting on caves. This is exactly why science is awesome. And we're always learning more and more, developing more clever techniques, and finding out more about the universe and ourselves. We are on a long, slow, possibly never-ending journey. But that journey leads closer and closer to truth. And those children and adults long ago who struggled to survive and experimented with different ways to paint are part of that same journey that we are.

    (Sorry, something about this story just gets me a bit emotional.)

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama