The Ivory Lowen-mensch is the second such figurine found.German archaeologists discovered one (The Lion-man of Hohlenstein-Stadel) in 1939 at an Aurignacian site in the Lone Valley.
In the same valley, about 3 km from the Hohle Fels, there is another important archaeological site, the Cave of Geissenklösterle, where a Palaeolithic-Aurignacian small bas-relief of a human (of unidentified sex) with raised arms (dubbed worshipper) and figurines of various animals were found.
This discovery predates the well-known Venuses from the Gravettian culture by at least 5,000 years and radically changes our views of the context and meaning of the earliest Palaeolithic art.
If the dating is correct, then this is the oldest undisputed example of Upper Palaeolithic art and figurative prehistoric art in general.
The arm is short and decorated with spots and a vertical scratch, which are considered the feline attributes. The siltstone phallus was found broken into 14 pieces and was re-assembled in 2005 following the discovery of the 14th piece.
Researchers believe the object's distinctive form and etched rings around one end mean there can be little doubt as to its symbolic nature.
This sketch shows that the cave has the appearance of being the 'mouth' of a face in the mountain when there are no trees to obscure it.