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Further afield, hands have also been discovered in South America, Australia and Indonesia, where recent research revealed that a hand silhouette in a cave on Sulawesi island was 40,000 years old — the world’s oldest.
That was around the time when Homo sapiens — the first modern humans — arrived in Europe after having emerged in Africa and lived in parts of Asia.
Theories abound about what the hands mean, but with no written records, much of it is conjecture.
Researchers have tried to determine whether they were male or female, and why in some cases fingers are missing.
Was this a ritual? Did they lose them in freezing cold weather? Or — as is more commonly believed — did they simply fold some fingers over when painting in some sort of sign language?
What if scientists were able to determine for certain that all hands in one area were done by women?
“It could mean a matriarchal society,” said Collado’s colleague Jose Ramon Bello Rodrigo.