Climate change may have driven a band of Neanderthals to cannibalism

Climate change may have driven a band of Neanderthals to cannibalism

(credit:
Photograph by ORNL
)

A new study suggests that a group of Neanderthals in southeast
France resorted to cannibalism to survive lean times. If that says
anything about Neanderthals, it’s that they weren’t so
different from us—for better and for worse.

The bones in the cave

Something awful happened in Moula-Guercy cave in southeastern
France around 120,000 years ago. Archaeologists excavating the
site in the early 1990s
found the bones of six Neanderthals
near the eastern wall of the cave, disarticulated and mingled with
bones from deer and other wildlife. That mixing of bones, as though
the dead Neanderthals had been discarded with the remains of their
food, is strange enough; there’s plenty of evidence that
Neanderthals typically buried their dead. But at Moula-Guercy, at
least six Neanderthals—two adults, two teenagers, and two
children—received very different treatment. Their bones and those
of the deer show nearly-identical marks of cutting, scraping, and
cracking, the kind of damage usually associated with
butchering.

“When numerous human remains are discovered on an undisturbed
living floor, with similar patterns of damage, mixed with animal
remains, stone tools, and fireplaces, they can legitimately
interpreted as evidence of cannibalism,” wrote Alban Defleur and
Emmanuel Desclaux in a recent paper in the Journal of
Archaeological Science.

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Climate change may have driven a band of Neanderthals to cannibalism