Playing the flute... 35,000 years ago

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LONDON (Reuters) - People have been making music for more than 35,000 years, judging by prehistoric bird-bone flutes excavated in southwest Germany.

Researchers said on Wednesday they had found a five-hole flute made from the radius bone of a griffon vulture and two fragments of ivory flutes in a cave in the Swabian Jura mountains.

The flutes are at least 5,000 years older than any previous confirmed archaeological examples of musical instruments.

“These finds demonstrate the presence of a well-established musical tradition at the time when modern humans colonized Europe, more than 35,000 calendar years ago,” Nicholas Conard of Tuebingen University and colleagues reported in the journal Nature.

Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by Elizabeth Fullerton