“45,000 Years Ago” by Celia Berrell

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45,500 Years Ago

This is the story

of three warty pigs

in a cave in Indonesia.

Ready to riot

upon the rock walls,

happily hidden

in cavernous darkness.

Their purple-brown flanks

and focussed stare,

forged by mud-fingers

in flickering light

from a flaming stick

our ancestors brought 

to make a marvellous magic.

Human creativity

and awesome ancient art

starts here.


Indonesia: Archaeologists find world’s oldest animal cave painting


14 January


image caption
There are two hand prints above the back of the pig

Archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest known animal cave painting in Indonesia – a wild pig – believed to be drawn 45,500 years ago.

Painted using dark red ochre pigment, the life-sized picture of the Sulawesi warty pig appears to be part of a narrative scene.

The picture was found in the Leang Tedongnge cave in a remote valley on the island of Sulawesi.

It provides the earliest evidence of human settlement of the region.

“The people who made it were fully modern, they were just like us, they had all of the capacity and the tools to do any painting that they liked,” said Maxime Aubert, the co-author of the report published in Science Advances journal.• Animal painting found in cave is 44,000 years old

A dating specialist, Mr Aubert had identified a calcite deposit that had formed on top of the painting, and used Uranium-series isotope dating to determine that the deposit was 45,500 years old.


image caption

There are countless limestone caves in the area – many still to be explored

This makes the artwork at least that old. “But it could be much older because the dating that we’re using only dates the calcite on top of it,” he added.

The report says that the painting, which measures 136cm by 54cm (53in by 21in), depicts a pig with horn-like facial warts characteristic of adult males of the species.

There are two hand prints above the back of the pig, which also appears to be facing two other pigs that are only partially preserved.


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High contrast images: The two other warty pigs in the scene are only partially preserved

Co-author Adam Brumm said: “The pig appears to be observing a fight or social interaction between two other warty pigs.”

To make the hand prints, the artists would have had to place their hands on a surface before spitting pigment over it, the researchers said. The team hopes to be able to extract DNA samples from the residual saliva as well.

The painting may be the world’s oldest art depicting a figure, but it is not the oldest human-produced art.

In South Africa, a hashtag-like doodle created 73,000 years ago is believed to be the oldest known drawing.

media captionCave paintings as old as those found in Europe have been found in Indonesia, raising new questions about early mankind and the development of art in prehistoric times.

‘Stand by for more discoveries’

Jonathan Amos, Science Correspondent

Sulawesi is in a key location. It’s the largest island in a group that scientists often refer to as Wallacea after the great 19/20th Century naturalist Alfred Wallace.

The group sits on a dividing line, either side of which you find very different animals and plants.

But Wallacea’s significance also is that it must have been a stepping stone for modern humans as they made their way to Australia. We know they were on that landmass some 65,000 years ago, so it’s reasonable to assume they were also on Sulawesi at the same time or even earlier.

This raises the tantalising prospect of there being figurative art out there, either on Sulawesi or the immediate islands, that’s older still than 45,500 years old.

The limestone hills about an hour’s drive from Makassar have innumerable nooks and crannies, just like the cave at Leang Tedongnge.

Stand by for more discoveries.


image caption

The expectation is that even older paintings will be discovered

“Friends Matter” by Celia Berrell

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There once was a study that showed

if you want to stay healthy, grow old,

then have lots of friends,

right through to the end.

Giraffes do.  So now you’ve been told!


Giraffes with Large Groups of “Friends” Live Longer

Female giraffes benefit from being social.


Mary Jo DiLonardo

Published February 10, 2021 10:29AM EST

Adult female giraffes that live in large groups survive longer than animals that are more socially isolated, new research finds.1 Even though specific relationships might change, having several “friends” can help their life span.

Giraffe groups are interesting because they have what is known as “fission-fusion” dynamics, lead researcher Monica Bond of the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies of the University of Zurich, tells Treehugger. That means their groups will merge and split often throughout the day and memberships in groups also changes frequently. Similar systems also exist in many other hoofed animals, as well as whales, dolphins, and some primates.

“But within that fission-fusion system of daily merging and splitting, female giraffes maintain specific relationships (friendships) that are stable over years,” Bond says. “When we say relationships, we mean that they are seen grouping together frequently over time, so we think they regularly ‘check in’ and ‘hang out’ with each other, moving around and eating together and watching over their calves together.”

Bond and her team have been studying giraffes in the Tarangire region of Tanzania since 2012 with the goal, she says, of learning what helps and hurts them in order to conserve them for the future.

They learned to recognize giraffes by their unique spot patterns and observed them over time. Each time they saw a giraffe, they recorded which females were in the same group together. They used friendship patterns to determine each female giraffe’s level of sociability.

They also looked at other factors in the environment that are strongly correlated with the animals’ chances of surviving including the types of vegetation that surrounded them and their distance from human settlements.

They analyzed how all these factors influenced how long the animals lived and which were most important.

“We found that females that tended to be in groups with more other familiar females—which is called gregariousness—had better survival,” Bond says. “Moreover, their gregariousness was more important than vegetation and nearness to human settlements. So this is why we concluded that friends matter to giraffes.”

The results of their research were published in the journal the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.1

The Benefits of Friendship

Giraffe friendships appear to offer many benefits. Beyond poaching, the primary causes of mortality for adult female giraffes are usually disease, stress, or malnutrition. Being part of a group can help prevent these issues.

“We speculated that being less solitary, for example tending to group with at least three other females, benefits adult female giraffes by improving foraging efficiency, helping manage interspecific competition, protecting their calves from predators, and reducing disease risk and psychosocial stress,” Bond says. 

“They can cooperate in caring for their calves, avoiding harassment from males, and sharing information about food sources. All of this reduces their stress and improves their health.”

The results show that giraffes have similar social habits as humans and other primates, where having greater social connections offers more opportunities.1

“Humans and non-human primates like chimpanzees and gorillas also benefit from sociability, not by living in small, closed groups with just a few friends, but by being more socially connected within our larger community of associates,” Bond says.

“Having more social ties directly improves our health and longevity. This has been shown often in humans and primates but this is the first time we’ve shown this to also be true in giraffes. Understanding the importance of giraffe social relationships to their survival and fitness helps us to develop better conservation strategies that avoid disrupting those relationships, so giraffes and people can co-exist together.”

“Summer Rain” by Arna Radovich

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Summer wind whistling

Summer rain falling

Rainbow boots plunking in 

puddles of mud

Cobwebs of raindrops 

dangling from branches

Wriggly worms wiggling 

their way underground

Jewel coloured beetles

skittering and scuttling

while the snails in the 

vege patch are having a race. 

“Come inside, Jimmy,”

his mother is calling,

but Jimmy’s too busy

there is so much to see!