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Pigment-stained Marine Shell Image 2
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Pigment-stained Marine Shell (Image 2)

May 1, 2012
Perforated marine shells from Cueva Antón, a Neanderthal-associated site in the Murcia province of south-east Spain. (Glycymeris insubrica, left and right, and Acanthocardia tuberculata, center. The larger of the two Glycymeris shells was stained with hematite, a red colorant. The shells date from level Middle Paleolithic II, ~48,500 years old. Analysis of the shells (some with pigment stain), discovered by João Zilhao, a professor of paleolithic archaeology at the University of Bristol, and colleagues, found they were most certainly used as neck pendants. The practice of body ornamentation is widely accepted by archaeologists as conclusive evidence of modern behavior and symbolic thinking among early modern humans, but had not been recognized in Neanderthals until this discovery. Credit: João Zilhao, University of Bristol