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Neanderthals wore make-up and liked to chat
NewScientist.com news by Dan Jones
Could Neanderthals speak? The answer may depend on whether they used make-up.
Francesco d'Errico, an archaeologist from the University of Bordeaux, France, has found crafted lumps of pigment – essentially crayons – left behind by Neanderthals across Europe.
He says that Neanderthals, who most likely had pale skin, used these dark pigments to mark their own as well as animal skins. And, since body art is a form of communication, this implies that the Neanderthals could speak, d'Errico says.
Working with Marie Soressi of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, d'Errico has recovered hundreds of blocks of black manganese pigment from two neighbouring sites at Pech de l'Azé in France, which were occupied by Neanderthals. These add to evidence of pigment among Neanderthal from some 39 other sites.
The pigments were not just smeared onto the body like camouflage, d'Errico says, but fashioned into drawing tools.