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The naturalistic rock art of Yunnan Province is poorly known outside of China despite two decades of investigation by local researchers. The authors report on the first major international study of this art, its place in antiquity and its resemblance to some of the rock art of Europe, southern Africa and elsewhere. While not arguing a direct connection between China, Europe and other widely separated places, this article suggests that rock-art studies about the nature of style, culture contact and the transmission of iconography across space and time need to take better account of the results of neuroscience research, similar economic/ecological circumstances and the probability of independent invention.