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45,500-Year-Old Pig Painting May Be World’s Oldest Animal Art

The artwork could be actually much older.

45,500 years or perhaps, even way back, ancient humans ventured into a cave and painted the life-sized picture of a wild wart pig using dark red ochre pigment on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

45,500-Year-Old Pig Painting May Be World’s Oldest Animal Art
Source: A.A. Oktaviana

First discovered in December 2017 by local archaeologist Basran Burhan, the painting's analysis has now led archaeologists to believe that it might be the oldest drawing of an animal yet discovered anywhere in the world.

The study was published in Science Advances.

It could be much older

The painting is described as a pig with horn-like facial warts characteristic of adult males of the species. Measuring 53 inches by 21 inches (136 cm by 54 cm), it also has two handprints, perhaps belonging to the ancient painter.

There are also two other pigs that are only partially preserved. They all appear to be Sulawesi warty pigs (Sus celebensis) which are endemic to the island.

45,500-Year-Old Pig Painting May Be World’s Oldest Animal Art
Source: A.A. Oktaviana

The paintings were first discovered at a site known as Leang Tedongnge in December by Basran Burhan, who is currently a Ph.D. student at Australia's Griffith University. 

Now, in a new study, the research team suspect modern humans were responsible for the rock art. As of now, this may be the world's oldest known example of an illustration representing real and recognizable objects.

Adam Brumm, first author of the new study and archaeologist at Australia's Griffith University, states that the painting may depict "prime hunting trophies."

Other discoveries await

The team used a technique called uranium-series dating to analyze a mineral formation that protruded from a part of the image, the authors explained in The Conversation.

45,500-Year-Old Pig Painting May Be World’s Oldest Animal Art
Source: A.A. Oktaviana

The formation was found to be at least 45,500 years old but researchers say that it must have been formed after the painting was produced, which means the artwork could be much older.

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"It adds to the evidence that the first modern human cave art traditions did not arise in ice age Europe, as long assumed, but at an earlier point in the human journey," said Brumm.

You can watch the authors of the study explain the discovery down below:

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