Grotte Cosquer Animal

Paleolithic cave art depicting a Sea MONSTERin France.

Physical description: Fat, bulky body. Small head on a relatively long neck. Two flexible front flippers and two pointed rear flippers.

Distribution: Grotte Cosquer, Cap Morgiou, near Marseille, France.

Present status: This underwater cave was discovered in 1985 by Henri Cosquer, who also found the artwork six years later. The entrance, 120 feet below water level, would have been above water during the Ice Age. The charcoal drawings of animals in the cave were confidently dated by Jean Courtin and Jacques Collina-Girard in 1994 as 18,000-19,000 years old. Most of the images are of land animals, especially horses, but fully 11 percent depict marine life, including auks, fishes, seals, and jellyfish. Possible explanations:

(1) Commonly accepted by archaeologists as depicting a Penguin (Family Spheniscidae), though it looks nothing like this Antarctic bird. However, during the Pleistocene, the colder European climate would have been favorable to penguins.

(2) A Fur seal or Sea lion (Family Otariidae), though probably an unknown species.

(3) The image is remarkably close to Bernard Heuvelmans's LONGNECK variety of Sea monster.

Sources: Jean Clottes and Jean Courtin, The Cave Beneath the Sea (New York: Harry N.

2i8 grotte cosquer animal

Abrams, 1996); La grotte Cosquer: Les animaux marins, fr/fr-cosqu4.htm.

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