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Pike noticed that calcite deposits had formed over the engravings, and realised he could use uranium series dating to pinpoint when.

But successfully applying it to date cave art is a big leap in our understanding of human prehistory.

Animal figures always constitute the majority of images in caves from all periods.

During the earliest millennia when cave art was first being made, the species most often represented, as in the Chauvet–Pont-d’Arc cave in France, were the most-formidable ones, now long extinct—cave lions, mammoths, woolly rhinoceroses, cave bears.

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Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work! Most examples of cave art have been found in France and in Spain, but a few are also known in Portugal, England, Italy, Romania, Germany, and Russia.

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The exact meanings of the images remain unknown, but some experts think they may have been created within the framework of shamanic beliefs and practices.

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