European Neanderthals Were Cannibals, Study Finds

Posted: Jul 10 2016, 11:31pm CDT | by , Updated: Jul 10 2016, 11:38pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


European Neanderthals were Cannibals, Study Finds
Neandertal bone fragments from the Troisième caverne came from at least five individuals. Credit:Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

First evidence of Neanderthals butchering and eating each other in northern Europe has been discovered

Researchers have found a clear-cut evidence of cannibalism among European Neanderthals. 

The Neanderthal bones that were excavated in Belgium bear signs of intentional butchering – the marks caused by using stone tools and cutting meat. The bones were also used for sharpening the cutting edges of other stone tools. 

The bones, which belonged to Neanderthals living around 40,500 to 45,500 years ago, shed more light into the variability of the behavior of extinct human relatives. A thorough analysis of the bones reveals that Neanderthals not only ate fellow Neanderthals but they done that masterfully. The skinning, cutting up and extraction of bone marrow are also evident in the bone fractures. 

“These indications allow us to assume that Neanderthals practiced cannibalism.” Professor Hervé Bocherens from University of Tübingen, Germany said.

This is not the first time when evidences of Neanderthal cannibalism have been detected in Europe before like sites in Spain and France but remains uncovered in Goyet caves near Namur are the first evidence of Neanderthal cannibalism in Northern Europe. The site has yielded largest number of Neanderthal remains in northern Europe consisting of at least five individuals, four adults and one child. 

Researchers have used various techniques ranging from radiocarbon dating to digital measurement to genetic analysis for extracting useful information from the ancient bones over the years. The findings have expanded their understanding of Neanderthals lifestyle before the arrival of modern humans in Europe.


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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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