Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

PNAS lifts embargo on Neanderthal rock engraving after seventh break this year

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pnas juneThis message went out to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) media list earlier today:

Due to an embargo break, PNAS is lifting the embargo early on the following paper. All other articles are under the scheduled embargo:

  • Neanderthal rock engraving

A study of a rock engraving in Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar finds that the cross-hatched impression was likely created by Neanderthals and represents Neanderthals’ capacity for abstract expression. Previously-discovered cave art has been exclusively attributed to modern humans, who arrived in Western Europe around 40,000 years ago. Ruth Blasco and colleagues discovered an abstract pattern engraved in the rock of Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar. The cross-hatched pattern was overlain by undisturbed sediment in which Neanderthal artifacts had previously been discovered, suggesting that the engraving pre-dated the 39,000-year-old artifacts. Further geochemical analysis of the mineral coating on the engraved grooves suggests that the rock art was created before deposition of the overlying sediment. The authors took microphotographs of the tool marks within the engraving, compared the marks with experimental marks made with various tools, and determined that the abstract cave engraving was likely created intentionally by repeatedly passing a robust cutting tip over the rock in the same direction, and not by incidental cutting associated with other activities. The results add to evidence at other sites that Neanderthal intellectual capacity may have previously been underestimated, according to the authors.

Article #14-11529: “A rock engraving made by Neanderthals in Gibraltar,” by Joaquín Rodríguez-Vidal et al.

PNAS tells Embargo Watch:

We noticed a story published ahead of the embargo in The San Diego Union Tribune. We are investigating the origin and circumstances of the break.

The story was by the AP, although it’s unclear how the break happened. Wire services typically send embargoed material to clients ahead of time.

This is the seventh embargo break for PNAS content this year.

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 1, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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