Megafauna cave painting could be 40,000 years old

Via ABC News (Australia):

Scientists say an Aboriginal rock art depiction of an extinct giant bird could be Australia’s oldest painting.

Genyornis cave paintingThe red ochre painting, which depicts two emu-like birds with their necks outstretched, could date back to the earliest days of settlement on the continent.

It was rediscovered at the centre of the Arnhem Land plateau about two years ago, but archaeologists first visited the site a fortnight ago.

A palaeontologist has confirmed the animals depicted are the megafauna species Genyornis.

Archaeologist Ben Gunn said the giant birds became extinct more than 40,000 years ago.

“The details on this painting indicate that it was done by someone who knew that animal very well,” he said.

He says the detail could not have been passed down through oral storytelling.

“If it is a Genyornis, and it certainly does have all the features of one, it would be the oldest dated visual painting that we’ve got in Australia,” he said.

“Either the painting is 40,000 years old, which is when science thinks Genyornis disappeared, or alternatively the Genyornis lived a lot longer than science has been able to establish.”

Mr Gunn says there are paintings of other extinct animals right across the area including the thylacine, or tasmanian tiger, the giant echidna and giant kangaroo. (…)

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