New art engravings uncovered just outside of Barcelona have been dated to over 14,000 years ago. Archaeologists from the Autonomous University of Barcelona discovered the ancient engravings earlier this week and have been able to pinpoint their creation to the Upper Paleolithic–era.
The same sight was home to an earlier discovery of a partial skeleton from the same time period, give or take a few centuries. It wasn’t immediately obvious what the engravings were meant to depict, but a 3D scan helped reveal the figure that appears to be a Pyrenean ibex.
“There are elements and visual resources with which to narrate stories or specify spaces that denote that the person or persons who executed them were intelligent and technically skilled,” researcher Jorge Martínez-Moreno explained, “and that combining few lines were capable of generating visualizations with a high empathic content that we have been able to decode thousands of years later.”
The Pyrenean ibex has been extinct since the year 2000. The animal, usually referred to as a “bucardo” in the area of Spain where the engravings were found, is a part of the Capra genus of animals, which are more commonly known as goats.
Apart from the artistic significance of the discovery, the engravings could also help chart the evolution of the Pyrenean ibex as a species. Scientists and researchers hadn’t properly mapped out the taxonomy of the animal before they went extinct. While artistic renderings aren’t the most scientifically accurate depictions, the newly found carvings could help clear up the animal’s historical timeline.
In 2003, Spanish scientists successfully managed to clone a Pyrenean ibex, marking the first newly-born animal in three years. However, the kid died shortly after its birth thanks to a lung defect. It is, to date, the only successful resurrection of an extinct species, even though the animal died minutes after its de-extinction.