Emmanuelle Honoré

Lizards may be behind ‘baby handprint’ cave art

In the “Cave of the Beasts” in southwestern Egypt, there are 13 outlines of infant hands, stenciled on the rock 8000 years ago. But now, National Geographic reports that these aren’t infant hands at all. Actually, they may be lizard feet. These mystery prints have long been identified as baby handprints—but their fingers are strangely thin and long. After measuring the hands of modern-day infants at a hospital in France, a team discovered that the stencils’ proportions are way off. The shape of the cave’s handprints, as it turns out, are actually much closer to lizard feet, the researchers report this week in the Journal of Archaeological Sciences. One of the most likely culprits is monitor lizards, which live in the area and have spiritual significance to the groups that live nearby. 

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