Category Archives: FRANCE

A Cave in France Changes What We Thought We Knew About Neanderthals

A Cave in France Changes What We Thought We Knew About Neanderthals

Rings of stone found inside a French cave were probably built 176,500 years ago by Neanderthals. A study says the structures are the oldest known human constructions, possibly altering the way we think about our ancestors.

A team led by archeologist Jacques Jaubert of the University of Bordeaux, using advanced dating techniques, noted that the stalagmites used in the stone ring constructions must have been broken off the ground around 176,500 years ago.

The dating of the structures – if substantiated – would push back by tens of thousands of years the first known cave exploration by members of the human family. It would also change the widely held view that humans’ ancient cousins were incapable of complex behavior.

Earlier research had suggested the structures pre-dated the arrival of modern humans in Europe around 45,000 years ago and thus the idea that Neanderthals could have made them didn’t fit and was largely disregarded.

“Their presence at 336 meters (368 yards) from the entrance of the cave indicates that humans from this period had already mastered the underground environment, which can be considered a major step in human modernity.

A chance find

The structures – discovered by chance in 1990 after a rockslide closed the mouth of a cave at Bruniquel in southwest France – were made from hundreds of pillar-shaped mineral deposits, or stalagmites, which were up to 40 centimeters (16 inches) high.

The authors said the purpose of the oval structures – measuring 16 square meters (172 sq. feet) and 2.3 square meters – is still a matter of speculation, though they may have served some symbolic or ritual purpose.

“A plausible explanation is that this was a common meeting place for some type of ritual social behavior,” said Paola Villa, an archaeologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder who wasn’t involved in the study.

The Neanderthals who built them must have had a “project” to go so deep into a cave where there was no natural light, said Jaubert.

“The site provides strong evidence of the great antiquity of those elaborate structures and is an important contribution to a new understanding of the greater level of social complexities of Neanderthal societies,” Villa noted.

Who were the Neanderthals?

Neanderthals were a species or subspecies of humans that became extinct between 40,000 and 28,000 years ago. Closely related to modern humans, they left remains mainly in Eurasia, from western Europe to central, northern, and western Asia.

Neanderthals are generally classified by paleontologists as the species Homo neanderthalensis, having separated from the Homo sapiens lineage 600,000 years ago.

Several cultural assemblages have been linked to the Neanderthals in Europe. The earliest, the Mousterian stone tool culture, dates to about 300,000 years ago. Late Mousterian artifacts were found in Gorham’s Cave on the south-facing coast of Gibraltar.

In December 2013, researchers reported evidence that Neanderthals practiced burial behavior and buried their dead.

In addition, scientists reported having sequenced the entire genome of a Neanderthal for the first time. The genome was extracted from the toe bone of a 50,000-year-old Neanderthal found in a Siberian cave.

Paleolithic Art – c. 14000-year-old Bull and Cow Bison found in the Le Tuc d’Audoubert cave, Ariege, France

Museum of Artifacts: 14000 Years Old Bisons Sculpture Found in Le d’Audoubert Cave, Ariege, France

The bison stood next to each other, built from the cave walls, leaning against a small boulder in the darkness.

While they are 18 feet twenty-four inches long, they are beautifully constructed and durability is remarkable.

The bison remained alone for thousands of years in the dark French cave until it was discovered in the early 20th century.

The cave of Tuc Audoubert was discovered by the three sons of Count Henri three Bégouën on 20 July and 10 October 1912.

The artist’s hand signs are still clearly visible and the techniques used to render the face and mane details Objects like these clearly demonstrate that man used clay for artistic expression long before the actual firing of clay was discovered.

The walls of these caves also are covered with drawings of bison and other game animals, marked in carbon from the fires, as well as the earth minerals such as iron oxide and manganese, showing that these ceramic coloring materials that we still use today were known to our earliest ancestors.

The bisons’ shaggy mane and beard appear to be carved with a tool, but the jaws are traced by the sculptor’s fingernail.

The impression given is one of immense naturalistic beauty. The female bison is ready to mate, while the Bull is sniffing the air.

Both animals are supported by a central rock and are unbelievably well preserved (proving perhaps that there was never a passage connecting the Tuc d’Audoubert cave with the Trois Freres), although they have suffered some drying out, which has caused some cracks to appear across their bodies.

Also in the chamber are two other bison figures, both engraved on the ground.

Prehistorians have theorized that a small group of people (including a child) remained in the Tuc d’Audoubert cave with the sole reason of participating in certain ceremonies associated with cave art.

The remote location of the clay bison – beneath a low ceiling at the very end of the upper gallery, roughly 650 meters from the entrance, is consistent with their involvement in some type of ritualistic or shamanistic process.

The Largest Insect Ever Existed Was A Giant ‘dragonfly’ Fossil Of A Meganeuridae

The Largest Insect Ever Existed Was A Giant ‘dragonfly’  Fossil Of A Meganeuridae

Meganeura the largest Flying Insect Ever Existed, Had a Wingspan of Up to 65 Cm, from the Carboniferous period.

Its name is Meganeuropsis, and it ruled the skies before pterosaurs, birds, and bats had even evolved.

The largest known insect of all time was a predator resembling a dragonfly but was only distantly related to them. Its name is Meganeuropsis, and it ruled the skies before pterosaurs, birds, and bats had even evolved.

The Dragonfly-like Meganeuropsis was a giant insect that plied the skies from the Late Carboniferous to the Late Permian, some 317 to 247 million years ago. It had a wingspan of some 28″ with a body length of around 17.”

Most popular textbooks make mention of “giant dragonflies” that lived during the days before the dinosaurs. This is only partly true, for real dragonflies had still not evolved back then. Rather than being true dragonflies, they were the more primitive ‘griffin flies’ or Meganisopterans. Their fossil record is quite short.

They lasted from the Late Carboniferous to the Late Permian, roughly 317 to 247 million years ago.

The fossils of Meganeura were first discovered in France in the year 1880. Then, in 1885, the fossil was described and assigned its name by Charles Brongniart who was a French Paleontologist. Later in 1979, another fine fossil specimen was discovered at Bolsover in Derbyshire.

Meganisoptera is an extinct family of insects, all large and predatory and superficially like today’s odonatans, the dragonflies and damselflies. And the very largest of these was Meganeuropsis.

It is known from two species, with the type species being the immense M.permiana. Meganeuropsis permiana, as its name suggests is from the Early Permian.

There has been some controversy as to how insects of the Carboniferous period were able to grow so large.

•Oxygen levels and atmospheric density.

The way oxygen is diffused through the insect’s body via its tracheal breathing system puts an upper limit on body size, which prehistoric insects seem to have well exceeded. It was originally proposed hat Meganeura was able to fly only because the atmosphere at that time contained more oxygen than the present 20%.

•Lack of predators. 

Other explanations for the large size of meganeurids compared to living relatives are warranted. Bechly suggested that the lack of aerial vertebrate predators allowed pterygote insects to evolve to maximum sizes during the Carboniferous and Permian periods, perhaps accelerated by an evolutionary “arms race” for an increase in body size between plant-feeding Palaeodictyoptera and Meganisoptera as their predators.

•Aquatic larvae stadium. 

Another theory suggests that insects that developed in water before becoming terrestrial as adults grew bigger as a way to protect themselves against the high levels of oxygen.

Massive, 1,100-Pound Dinosaur Bone Unearthed in France

Massive, 1,100-Pound Dinosaur Bone Unearthed in France

The enormous prehistoric treasures Mother Nature continues to produce, this time in the form of a gigantic thigh bone, once belonging to a massive plant-munching sauropod that roamed the primeval swamps of what is now southwestern France.

A team of paleontologists of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris discovered the huge 6-1/2-foot-long 1,100-pound femur fossil.

Experts consider this 140 million-year-old beefy bone to be a major discovery, and it was found at the fertile paleontological dig site of Angeac-Charente in France. During intense excavation activities.

Uncovered resting in a thick layer of clay, scientists discovered bones from the mammoth creature’s pelvis as well. 

Sauropods were plant-eating dinosaurs with small heads, long slender necks, stump-like feet, and elongated tails that are considered some of the biggest land animals to ever stride upon the Earth.

These quadrupedal herbivores flourished during the Late Jurassic period and were the true kings of the prehistoric age, sometimes growing to a length of up to 130-feet long from nose to tail.

The expert team’s awesome French specimen was particularly well-preserved for a fossil of its size and long ago helped support the 50-60 ton weight of this gentle giant.

“We can see the insertions of muscles and tendons, and scars,” Ronan Allain, a paleontologist at the National History Museum of Paris, told Le Parisien newspaper. “This is rare for big pieces which tend to collapse in on themselves and fragment.”

The bone was discovered nestled in a thick layer of clay. Other bones from the animal’s pelvis were also unearthed.

“This femur is huge! And in an exceptional state of conservation. It’s very moving,” says Jean-François Tournepiche, curator at the Museum of Angouleme (Charente).

“This sauropod bone, 2 m high, was found at Angeac-Charente in a 140-million-year-old marsh lost in the Cognac vineyards and now considered one of the largest dinosaur sites in the world.”

Since 2010, more than 70 scientists from around the world gather each summer to search the soil for dino remains in this productive hunting ground.

So far over 7,500 vertebrate bones representing 45 different species have been unburied and identified, including the first sauropodium femur, plants, footprints, stegosaurs, and even a herd of ostrich dinosaurs.