Archaeologists have discovered the earliest known example of prehistoric cave art in Britain.
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor
It consists of 12,000-year-old engravings of birds and an ibex carved into the stone walls at Creswell Crags, Derbyshire.
Enhanced view: This image traces the outline of the ibex
The identification was made by Paul Bahn and Paul Pettitt, with Spanish colleague Sergio Ripoll.
They report their findings in the journal Antiquity.
There are fine examples of cave art in France and Spain but none has been found in the UK - until now.
The British art is less impressive than the paintings found in continental caves. It is also substantially younger.
It is thought modern humans appeared in Europe around 45,000 years ago. Over a time span of about 15,000 years, they replaced the continent's then occupants, the Neanderthals.
The newcomers produced some remarkable works. The best of these are the stampeding horses and charging bulls painted at Lascaux and Chauvet in France, and at Altamira in Spain.
It is surprising that Palaeolithic cave art has not been identified in the UK before now because the British Isles was linked to the continent during this time and known to have been inhabited.
...and a normal view: The art is partially obscured by 1940s graffiti
However, experts believe that most cave paintings would have been destroyed in Britain's damp climate.
The researchers examined the Creswell Crags because of previous Stone Age discoveries at that location. In the 19th Century a 12,000-year-old bone needle was found there.
Bahn, Pettitt and Ripoll say the engravings are of a style similar to the cave art of France and Spain.
Of the two birds carved on the wall of the cave, one might be a crane or swan, the other a bird of prey. The other engraving could be an ibex, an animal not thought to have existed in Britain.