Ancient painting of the giant bird that roamed Australia 40,000 years agoS

This is perhaps the oldest painting on the continent of Australia. It depicts the Genyornis, a giant bird that went extinct 40,000 years ago. And it's one of the only snapshots we have of the ancient creature.

Scientists discovered the red ochre painting two years ago, and at first thought it might be an emu. Now they're convinced it really is the Genyornis, which would mean this painting is older than 40 thousand years.

Ancient painting of the giant bird that roamed Australia 40,000 years ago

From GrrlScientist:

"When we got to the beak we knew that was no emu. We thought, 'goodness do we have a Genyornis?'," said anthropologist and paleontologist Peter Murray, who is now retired from the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

Genyornis had a big beak that it used to eat fruits and probably smaller animals that were either too stupid or too slow to escape. Genyornis fossils reveal that it had large hoof-like claws on its toes, adapting it to a cursorial life.

"If it is a Genyornis — and it certainly does have all the features of one — it would be the oldest dated visual painting that we've got in Australia," said [archaeologist Ben] Gunn.

Interestingly, Genyornis bones have been excavated in association with human artifacts in Cuddie Springs in the Australian state of New South Wales. It is likely that humans lived alongside these birds, and some scientists think that humans may have contributed to their extinction.

"The details on this painting indicate that it was done by someone who knew that animal very well," remarked Mr Gunn, adding that the details could not have been passed down through oral storytelling.

via GrrlScientist