Prehistoric ‘hand’ stencil actually belonged to lizard

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The roughly 8,000-year-old “hands” painted on a rock wall in the Sahara Desert aren’t human at all, as researchers originally thought, but are actually stencils of the “hands” or forefeet, of the desert monitor lizard, a new study finds.

These tiny lizard hands are intermingled with paintings of human adult hands, which ancient rock artists stenciled around using red, yellow, orange and brown pigments, the researchers said.

It’s unclear why these ancient people used both human and lizard hands as stencils, but the finding may provide clues about the mysterious people who lived in the Sahara about 8,000 years ago, the researchers said.

“It completely changes the way we think about prehistoric people,” said lead study researcher Emmanuelle Honoré, a research fellow at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. “We never imagined they had such complex practices in that area at that time.”

In earlier studies, researchers hypothesized that the large and small hand paintings were stenciled around adult and baby hands. Yet, shortly after looking at the 13 “baby” hand drawings, Honoré concluded that they weren’t human.

For one thing, they were too small to belong to a human infant, she said. Moreover, the digits were pointy and “very long and very thin,” Honoré said. In contrast, human babies have fingers that are roughly the same length as their palms.

Read full, original post: Nonhuman ‘Hands’ Found in Prehistoric Rock Art

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