10 of the Most Interesting Things Found in Caves
There is a lot more to spooky caves than their terrifying qualities. The caves are places of ancient and prehistoric discoveries. The caves could also be the habitats of organisms that we haven’t even discovered yet. It is hard to tell what new information they could bring to us in kind that would further inspire alternate or revised history. Let’s check the following list of 10 of the most interesting things found in caves.
1 The skeleton of a 170,000-year-old called Altamura Man was found in a sinkhole in Lamalunga Caves, Altamura, Italy. Discovered in 1993, it was the oldest piece of the Neanderthal skeleton from which DNA was taken. However, it was embedded in cave rock, encrusted in a thick layer of calcite, and its skull had been shattered to pieces so it was left on the site to avoid any damage.
This skeleton of the Neanderthal man found in the Italian cave is having the oldest DNA of early humans. Researchers also claim that it may in fact produce a complete picture of Neanderthal life.
One of the research paleontologists claims that the skeleton found in Lamalunga is the most complete skeleton of any non-human ever found.
However, even if the skull was undamaged, it was hard to analyze since it was fixed in stalactites and stalagmites. It took a hard time to determine whether or not it actually belonged to a Neanderthal.
This was finally possible when the researchers were able to take DNA from the right shoulder blade. The details of the findings were recorded in the Journal of Human Evolution in March 2015. (Source)
2 Some 170,000-year-old roasted root vegetables were found in cave dirt of the Border Cave in South Africa. They were the earliest roasted vegetables ever found, and after studying them, it was discovered that the real paleo diet included lots of roasted vegetables that are rich in carbohydrates, similar to modern potatoes.
After researching the oldest roasted vegetables from southern Africa, the scientists concluded that early humans were consuming a very balanced diet.
In 2016, a dozen root vegetables were found covered in a layer of ash in the Border Cave. It took the researchers years to figure out what kind of vegetables they were. They examined hundreds of charred remains of modern plants under a microscope to finally identify that the cave remains were rhizomes. It is a subterranean stem of a plant belonging to the genus Hypoxis.
The rhizomes of Hypoxis and potatoes are both rich in carbohydrates, but the rhizomes taste more like a yam. Multiple rhizomes were found in the cave site which suggests that they were a part of early humans’ common diet. This contradicts the common belief that the early humans were almost exclusively meat-eaters.
The rhizomes of Hypoxis are still eaten today, but they’ve become rare because of overexploitation. (Source)
3 In the Chauvet Cave in France, a set of footprints of a young child and a wolf or a dog walking together were found. Researching these 26,000-year-old footprints suggests that the origin of human-dog companionship could be dated to before the last Ice Age.
Conventionally it was believed that agricultural man domesticated dogs somewhere around 15,000 years ago. However, more archaeological discoveries and research indicate that the relationship could be dated back up to 30,000 years ago.
This theory was supported when the footprints of a child and a wolf or a dog were found walking side by side. Covering 150 feet of distance, the footprints were found hardened in soft clay, preserved for thousands of years. The impressions were first spotted by the discoverer of the Chauvet Cave, Jean-Marie Chauvet, in 1994.
On the site, it was clearly evident that the eight to ten-year-old Paleolithic kid was walking along with a wolf in the cave. A stain of charcoal was also found in the cave telling us that the child carried a torch with him, and he stopped at a point to clean it up. (1, 2)
4 At the depth of 1,100 feet in a dark cave in southern France, 175,000-year-old mysterious fire-scorched rings of stalagmites were found. This archaeological discovery has led the researchers to conclude that Neanderthals constructed complex subterranean structures, and it has also radically affected the way we understand Neanderthal culture.
The cave site where the strange stalagmite structures were found is located about 30 miles away from Toulouse in southern France. This was the first discovery ever that has informed us something about Neanderthals’ construction abilities.
Around 400 stalagmites were found meticulously stacked to form the walls of two circular structures. The cave was discovered in 1992, and it took the researchers years to eventually discover the structures that were 1,102 feet deep into the cave.
One of the rings was in a perfect circle measuring seven feet in diameter, and the second one was oval-shaped about 15 feet wide and 22 feet long. It was pretty evident that the rings were fired and the reasons are plain mysteries.
Nonetheless, the discovery has totally changed how anthropologists viewed the constructing skills of Neanderthals. Before this, these early humans were not considered to have made complex structures, but it turned out otherwise. (Source)
5 In 2003, a small carving of a bird was found in the Hohle Fels Cave in Germany. It was a 30,000-year-old sculpted piece of mammoth ivory and maybe the earliest representation of a bird found. It also provided some crucial knowledge on migration and the beliefs of early humans.
The figurines that were found depicted a water bird that has a horse’s head and a lion mane. It is only about an inch-long piece of art but is strong evidence of the existence of the practice of shamanism. This is because birds, and especially water birds, are considered to be favorite shamanic symbols.
The bird on the ivory looks pretty lifelike. It has a well-distinguished head, eyes, and neck stretching out as if it is flying. It is the oldest known representation of a bird ever found. It was found along with the figure of an owl in a French cave.
Researchers say that the bird figurines might appear to be made by Neanderthals but were actually made by early modern humans.
The carbon dating technique revealed that the art pieces were carved between 28,000 to 35,000 years ago. (Source)
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