It looks like our earliest human ancestors enjoyed recreational activities other than painting on cave walls. A study by Oxford University researchers revealed that the oldest musical instruments ever discovered date as far back as 42,000 to 43,000 years ago. These instruments are flutes made out of mammoth ivory and bird bones (above).
The instruments were discovered inside the caves of southern Germany along the Danube River valley by a team from the country's Tübingen University. They were previously thought to be only 40,000 years of age, but thanks to more advanced carbon dating equipment, it's been proven that the instruments are 2,000 to 3,000 years older. While a couple of thousand of years might seem insignificant (40,000-year-old musical instruments are still very much ancient, after all), this recent discovery sheds light on the movement of early humans in Europe.
According to Tom Higham of Oxford University, this suggests that modern humans were already in central Europe "when huge icebergs calved from ice sheets in the northern Atlantic and temperatures plummeted." Scientists previously thought that humans came to central Europe later after the shift in temperature. It's also consistent with earlier hypothesis by Tübingen University researchers that the "Danube River was a key corridor for the movement of humans and technological innovations into central Europe between 40,000 and 45,000 years ago."
More from Tecca: