Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Neanderthal Rock Art and Patagonia. A link.

In February 2012, I posted about the similarity between stencilled hands painted on rocks in Patgonia, South America and in New Guinea. Of course some readers pointed out that these hands are common and humans have painted them on rocks around the World. So I forgot about it until this afternoon when I read about the following image:

Neanderthal rock art
Neanderthal Rock Art. From Nature

And the surprising fact is that these hands were stencilled onto the stone walls of a cave by Neanderthals!

They were painted on what is known as the "Panel of Hands" in El Castillo Cave, Spain. At the site there are hand stencils and red disks. The hands were painted by blowing paint over a hand and once the hand is removed, the outline remains on the wall.

This is excactly the same technique that was used at the Patagonian World Heritage Site of the UNESCO, "Hands Cave" or "Cueva de las Manos"! (see the google map here to see where it is).

The red disks have been dated to be older than 40.8 ky old. And this is the point: it is the oldest rock art in Europe and it is attributed to Neanderthals because it is far too old to have been made by Homo Sapiens. [1]

Compare it with the Patagonian paintings, the similarities are striking:

cueva de las manos

These Patagonian paintings are old, very old by American standards: 9,500 to 13,000 years old (read more about this UNESCO site). And they are quite different from later rock art by the "descendants" of the Paleoindians who painted them. Below is an example of later rock art from Patagonia:

Patagonian rock art

The Spanish Neanderthal also painted red dots onto the walls of their cave (see below):

red dots castillo cave Spain

The Cueva de las Manos site also has red dots, in two places at least; I saw them when I visited this place and took the following photographs. One shows the the top of the outcrop, yes, on the ceiling, and in the second photograph there are many dots, next to a hand and an animal tortoise? armadillo? (the latter are common in Patagonia):

And, surprisingly, so did the Patagonians at the Cueva de las Manos site! I saw them myself, and below is the photgraph I took:


The different Patagonian natives had several myths about the rock art in the caves; below are some quotes from my book Monsters of Patagonia:

  • "Anchimalleguen or midget walichus [evil genies] that live in the caves of the Nahuel-Huapi"
  • Ellengassen: "These beings existed before, but now they are extinct. They were harmless and never attacked. But when one came near them—especially at dusk—they threw stones. These strange beings lived in caves"
  • "‘Kollón’ (the stone masked devil to whom they attributed rock-art)"

Were Kollón, Ellengassen and the Anchimalleguen different manifestations of Human - Neanderthal contact in America? I have posted about this Gualicho & Kollon myths: based on Neanderthal?, so I will not repeat the argument here. The fact is that now that I know Neanderthals also painted their hands on the walls of caves just like those found in Patagonia, I wonder... who painted the Cueva de las Manos? Humans? Paleoindians? or Neanderthals?


[1] A. W. G. Pik, (2012). U-Series Dating of Paleolithic Art in 11 Caves in Spain. Science 15 June 2012: Vol. 336 no. 6087 pp. 1409-1413 DOI: 10.1126/science.1219957

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2014 by Austin Whittall © 

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