Online Cave Paintings

Humans have been drawing other animals for at least 45,000 years. We know it was one of the first things we did when we migrated into Europe and discovered its lions, bears and rhinos.

The paintings below are from the Chauvet Cave in southern France, and like others from across our planet, they show the regional megafauna – the local beasts.



Images: Bradshaw Foundation

There are plenty of theories for why we made these images. They might have been religiously important, they might have created “hunting magic”, they might have been menus, graffiti, and/or art.

Whatever the theories might be, tens of thousands of years later we are still obsessed with these images. Of all the things we choose to watch on our phones and computers, encounters with megafauna are one of the most popular. You might already be familiar with some of these:

With 8 million views, 15 million views, 35 million views – these sit in the YouTube hall of fame as some of our most watched moving images.

What’s fascinating about these particular videos – and what makes them even more similar to ancient cave paintings – is they are all faked. These replica beasts have been painted, not onto cave walls, but onto the frames of our shared videos.

Of course the video artists are influenced by the rewards of a viral video, as well as fame. Same for the people behind Nessie, Ogopogo, Yeti, Chupacabra and the countless “Phantom Cat” sightings.

But what about the millions upon millions of us glued to these encounters? We don’t watch these simulations for money or fame.

Is it ecological boredom? A psychological escape? Primal thrills? The spell of the sensuous? A mixture of all these?

All we can know for sure, is that painted or real, these other animals continue to be part of us.

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