February 11, 2011

Scientists Stumble Upon 12,000 Year Old Rock Carvings

Australia's research agency CSIRO reported on Friday that scientists hunting for fossils of giant rats in East Timor stumbled on unique rock carvings up to 12,000 years old.

The experts were digging in Timor's Lene Hara cave when they came upon a group of stylized human faces etched in the rock.  The cave is known as a treasure trove of fossils and rock art.

"Looking up from the cave floor at a colleague sitting on a ledge, my head torch shone on what seemed to be a weathered carving," said Ken Aplin of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO).

"I shone the torch around and saw a whole panel of engraved prehistoric human faces on the wall of the cave."

The face carvings are the first of their kind to be found in Timor and the only ones from the Pleistocene period in the region.  One of the face carvings is a circular headdress resembling the sun.

"The local landowners with whom we were working were stunned by the findings. They said the faces had chosen that day to reveal themselves because they were pleased by the field work we were doing," Aplin said in a statement.

Other art has been dated about 30,000 years old, while CSIRO said it had discovered evidence of an extinct species of ancient, giant rats the size of small dogs.

Image Courtesy John Brush


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