World's Oldest Music Instrument

Researchers have identified the earliest music instrument: a 42,000-year-old flute carved from mammoth ivory, found at the Geissenkloesterle Cave in Germany.

"Geissenkloesterle is one of several caves in the region that has produced important examples of personal ornaments, figurative art, mythical imagery and musical instruments."

Musical instruments may have been used in recreation or for religious ritual, experts say.

And some researchers have argued that music may have been one of a suite of behaviours displayed by our species which helped give them an edge over the Neanderthals - who went extinct in most parts of Europe 30,000 years ago.

Music could have played a role in the maintenance of larger social networks, which may have helped our species expand their territory at the expense of the more conservative Neanderthals.

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