Out There

The mystries of Chauvet Cave. Art from 30,000 years ago depicts animals that didn't live there.

Werner Herzog was allowed to film 6 days in Chauvet Cave, which was discovered in southern France in 1994. Many of the creatures depicted in the cave could only be found thousands of miles south, in central Africa, when the paintings in the cave were created 24,000 to 32,000 years ago, and some of them are of creatures entirely unknown. The public is not allowed in the cave due to the fragility of the art, and the film's release next April is one of the first extensive showings of its contents.

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I find it easy to believe there were such animals in France at that time. During historic times there were lions in the Middle East, and there were giant elk in the British Isles not that long ago. Perhaps the ranges of these animals shrank with climate change and, of course, human hunting. The amazing thing is how humans risked death by descending into deep and dangerous caves to make these paintings, many of which are beautiful art. We are fortunate that they did.

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