“By 40,000 years ago, humans were creating musical instruments and two- and three-dimensional images of the world around them. By 17,000 years ago, they had developed all the major representational techniques including painting, drawing, engraving, sculpture, ceramics, and stenciling. Working on stone, ivory, antler, and occasionally clay, they created imaginative and highly complex works of art.”
A world history website suggests possible motivation for human art...
“Archeologists and art historians have suggested several explanations for why Paleolithic art may have been created. Some historians believe that, like modern humans, Paleolithic people created art to decorate their dwellings, tools, and bodies. Others think Paleolithic people created art for use in important rituals or ceremonies, such as marriages and initiation rites into adulthood. Another theory holds that Paleolithic people created art to represent memorable events. Still another theory is that Paleolithic people created art to honor or influence the spirit world. For example, they may have hoped the art would influence a God or Goddess…”
R. Dale Guthrie, University of Alaska, thinks Paleolithic imagery is "an immensely valuable archive for natural history." as he explains in his book 'The Nature of Paleolithic Art'.