Scientists have identified the oldest known musical instruments in the world.
The flutes made of bird bones and mammoth ivory come from a cave in southern Germany that contains the earliest evidence of modern human habitation in Europe.
Scientists used carbon dating to show the flutes were between 42,000 and 43,000 years old.
, The results were published in the Journal of Human Evolution.
A team led by Professor Tom Higham of the University of Oxford has dated animal bones in the same layers of soil as the flutes in the Geissenklösterle cave in the Swabian Jura in Germany.
prof. Excavator on site was Nick Conard, scientist at the University of Tübingen, who determined the previous record holder for the oldest tool in 2009.
He said: 'These results are consistent with the hypothesis we had a few years ago that the Danube was a key corridor for human movement and technological innovation into Central Europe 40,000 to 45,000 years ago.
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"The Geissenklösterle is one of the few caves in the region with important examples of personal jewellery, figurative art, mythical paintings and musical instruments."
According to experts, the musical instruments could have been used for recreational activities or religious rituals.
Some researchers have argued that music may have been a set of behaviors in our species that helped it gain an advantage over the Neanderthals - who died out in most of Europe 30,000 years ago.
Music may have played a role in sustaining larger social networks, which may have helped our species expand its range at the expense of the more conservative Neanderthals.
Scientists say that dating evidence from Gissenklösterle indicates that modern humans appeared in the upper Danube region before an unusually cold climate period 39,000 to 40,000 years ago.
Previously, scientists argued that modern humans first migrated across the Danube soon after this event.
"Modern humans [of this] period were at least 2,000 to 3,000 years before this climate deterioration in central Europe, when giant icebergs broke off the North Atlantic ice sheets and temperatures fell"; says the professor. highham
'The question is what impact this crisis may have had on Europe at the time."