Real rocks were involved—they were cavemen!

Who invented rock and roll? Was it Chuck Berry? Ike Turner? Roy Brown?

You’ll have to go back much further than that.

Scientists digging in the north of Spain have retrieved genomic segments of four young adult cavemen who are, as it turns out, more than 8,000 years old. 

“These are the oldest partial genomes known to history—or, in this case, prehistory,” said Robin Gibbons, a paleogeneticist working with the Tactical Retrieval Squad of the Iberian Paleontology Institute. Gibbons, along with his colleague Teresa Caluso, oversaw the team.


But the age and condition of the cavemen’s genome wasn’t the most interesting thing about them. “They were holding guitars,” said Caluso. “I mean, two of them were. One was standing in a pose you would standing if you were playing keyboards, and the fourth was sitting on a petrified drum stool.” In front of one of the guitarists, there was even a stalagmite that may have served as a primitive microphone stand.

The skeletons were first discovered by off-trail skiers back in 2009. Cold weather and the absence of other wildlife acted to preserve the DNA. 

“Not just the DNA,” said Gibbons. “We found a set list.” The four bandmates appear to have played mostly originals, with song titles such as “Argh,” “Blargh,” and “Yeargh.” There is also a fourth title, mostly warn away, that appears to be either “Sus Ojos” or “Su Sonrisa” — in Spanish, “Her Eyes” or “Her Smile.”

“We can’t be sure precisely what we’ve found,” said Caluso, “though we know it’s major. We’ve sent out for help.” The help includes a linguist (to confirm whether or not the band would have spoken Spanish), a sonic architect (to try to reconstruct the songs), and a critic (to ascertain whether or not they were any good). 


In the meantime, the scientists have started a competition to name this prehistorical foursome. “Almost everyone on the team has come up with something,” said Gibbons. “Someone suggested The Pre-tles, Someone else suggested The When—sort of a takeoff on The Who. But I think the winner so far is Teresa. She wants to call them AC/BC. That’s the best.”

“It is,” said Caluso, shyly.

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