Fairy tales are an intrinsic part of our lives: in childhood, we are entertained and educated by the lessons imparted in their stories, and later in life, they continue to inspire and be adapted into popular culture, spawning new books, movies, television and video games.

While some of our oldest fairy tales can be traced to the 6th century storyteller Aesop, there is some contention that he based his stories on older fables. 19th century author Wilhelm Grimm said that he believed that the tales that he and his brother Jacob authored were thousands of years old, but this idea was dismissed by others shortly afterward. However, a new study shows that the origins of fables that have been retold over the centuries may have roots in our deep past.
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In comparison to geological timescales, human documentation of geological events only extends back into a mere fraction of the Earth’s past: the oldest-known depiction of a volcanic eruption is found in Turkey, in a mural dating back to 6,600 BCE. But according to a new paper published in the journal PLoS ONE, that date may have just been pushed back even further, by a scene painted in France’s Chauvet-Pont D’Arc cave.

Discovered in 1994, Chauvet-Pont D’Arc cave is the home to an extensive gallery of Paleolithic cave art, created over a number of periods between 23,000 and 36,000 years ago. The illustrations in this cave are the earliest known examples of human art, documenting the evolution of mankind’s artistic expression.
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The construction of the megalithic monument at Stonehenge has long been explained as has having been built in numerous stages, spanning a period between 8,000 and 1,600 BCE. The structure of the site has seen various upgrades over the ages, from it’s beginnings as a series of pine markers, to the multi-ton bluestones that are visible today. However, archaeologists have recently uncovered evidence that the stones used there may have been taken from an earlier monument, closer to the stones’ origin in Wales.
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