Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Arnhem Land Art could be the World's Oldest

Rock art found in central Arnhem Land could be among the oldest examples of rock painting in the world - if the birds depicted in the painting prove to be what scientists think they are. Rock art specialists suspect that the painting depicted the long-distinct genyomis. The genyomis, a flightless bird which stood three times the height of an emu, was one of the megafauna to become extinct when human began burning the continent for hunting and land-clearing forty thousand years ago.

Indeed, verification of the age of the painting would more than double the potential age of painted rock art in Australia. In this respect, rock once attached to the site of the paintings was yet to be dated, however, it is believed that once completed, this would confirm the species depicted.

The paintings showed a thick, rounded beak, which was characteristic of the genyomis. The painted birds, the largest of which is a metre in height, also feature a crop or a muscular pouch near the throat which forms part of the digestive tract and short, very solid legs.

Certainly, if the image was that of a genyomis, it would date the painting as at least 40,000 years, making it one of the oldest examples of rock art in the world. It was certainly slightly predate some of the oldest reliable rock art of parts of Europe, which go back 30,000 years.

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