“The symbols on the walls at 11 Spanish locations, including the World Heritage sites of Altamira, El Castillo and Tito Bustillo have long been recognised for their antiquity.
But researchers have now used refined dating techniques to get a more accurate determination of their ages.
One motif - a faint red dot - is said to be more than 40,000 years old.
“In Cantabria, [in] El Castillo, we find hand stencils that are formed by blowing paint against the hands pressed against the wall of a cave,” explained Dr Alistair Pike from Bristol University, UK, and the lead author on a scholarly paper published in the journal Science.
“We find one of these to date older than 37,300 years on ‘The Panel of Hands’, and very nearby there is a red disc made by a very similar technique that dates to older than 40,800 years.
“This now currently is Europe’s oldest dated art by at least 4,000 years,” he told reporters. It is arguably also the oldest reliably dated cave art anywhere in the world.”“