PICTURES: Hand Stencils Through Time

PICTURES: Hand Stencils Through Time
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June 26, 2009--Clusters of hand stencils dating back 2,500 years cover the walls of Argentina's Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands) in Patagonia.

Prehistoric handprints and stencils span all continents and began appearing on rock walls around the world at least 30,000 years ago.

"Our hands are one of the features that make humans unique, something that links us all," Pennsylvania State University archaeologist Dean Snow said.

With support from the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration, he analyzed hand stencils at caves in Spain and France and found most of them were female. Before, Snow says, most scientists had incorrectly "assumed that it was a guy thing." (See pictures of cave handprints recently found to be female.)

(The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)

—Photograph by Peter Essick/Aurora/Getty Images
 
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