# What Really Lies in the Ancient Bhimbetka Rock Shelters?

The ancient Bhimbetka rock shelters in India are a source of wonder and mystery, with their age and origin still up for debate. In 2020, researchers thought they had found evidence of the Dickinsonia creature in the caves, which would have fixed their age at around 550 million years. But a new study reveals that what they found wasn’t a Dickinsonia fossil at all but a beehive, leaving the age of the caves up for debate again.

This latest twist in the tale came about when researchers visited the caves and the supposed fossil of the Dickinsonia – a flat, oval-shaped, primitive marine organism. The ‘fossil’ had quickly decayed and was lying nearly vertically on a wall, whereas it would typically have been found on the floor or the ceiling. As soon as the geologists looked at it, they knew something was not right.

Further analysis revealed that this was, in fact, the remains of a quickly decaying beehive rather than the fossil of an animal that went extinct hundreds of millions of years ago. What’s more, no other Dickinsonia fossils were ever found anywhere near here.

## What Does This Mean for the Age of the Caves?

The researchers suggest that the caves and their surrounding landscape are around 1 billion years old. The magnetic signatures of the rock also match the signatures of other rocks dated to that period. This has huge implications for the paleogeography at the time, and the period when life was going through a major change.

## How Science Works

Admitting that you got something wrong is difficult to do, but in this case, the team that thought they had found a Dickinsonia fossil put their hands up to their mistakes. This is how science works: study gets added on top of study until the scientific facts come out. This doesn’t mean that there are huge numbers of incorrect studies out there, but rather that much of what is published can be trusted because it’s analyzed by other scientists and tested with further research.

The findings of this new study have been published in Gondwana Research and are sure to spark further debate about the age and origin of the ancient Bhimbetka rock shelters.

Source: www.sciencealert.com