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article imageNeanderthals take having a neighbor over to dinner to a new level

By Anne Sewell     Nov 26, 2013 in Science
Barcelona - Back in 1994, a cache of bones was discovered at El Sidrón cave, around 50km from the city of Oviedo in Asturias, northern Spain. These bones have been the subject of scientific studies ever since and now forensic techniques are giving some answers.
According to research which has been presented at the Royal Society in London, detailed insight is available as to how the bones belong to a group of Neanderthals who were butchered and eaten by a rival gang over 51,000 years ago.
As reported in the Sunday Times, researchers used forensic techniques similar to those seen on the TV show, CSI to reveal the high degree of savagery of the cannibalistic attack on their victims.
According to Dr. Carles Lalueza-Fox of Barcelona's Institute of Evolutionary Biology:
“They appear to have been killed and eaten, with their bones and skulls split open to extract the marrow, tongue and brains.”
“The victims included three female and three male adults, three boys aged 12-15 and three children aged from two to nine years. All had been butchered. It must have been a big feast.'
Lalueza-Fox went on to explain that the bones had been preserved in such a good condition, due to the positioning deep inside the El Sidrón cave.
He added that the pile of bones was probably washed through a sinkhole from a rocky shelter above, and they eventually settled in the small alcove of the cave system where they were discovered.
The research paper showed the degree of rivalry between Neanderthal gangs back in those days and the savagery that resulted from this. Speaking of the cannibalism, Laluela-Fox said that he doubts that the rival gangs were fussy eaters and that they had probably been forced to resort to these measures to get food in the cold winter months.
A model of an adult Neanderthal male head and shoulders on display in the Hall of Human Origins in t...
A model of an adult Neanderthal male head and shoulders on display in the Hall of Human Origins in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Tim Evanson
He added that unlike the earliest modern humans, who tended to join forces in large and more efficient groups to handle food shortages. Neanderthals tended to limit their groups to around 10-12 members.
Speaking on whether they preferred their dinner cooked or raw, Laluela-Fox said:
“There is no evidence of any fire so they were eaten raw immediately and every bit of meat was consumed."
“They even cut around the mandibles of the jaw to extract the tongues.”
Rather a gruesome thought to us modern day humans, but it is interesting to note that their DNA differed from ours by a mere 0.3 percent.
Neanderthals, who were a subspecies of the modern day human, are believed to have been around in Europe from as early as 600,000–350,000 years ago.
More about Spain, Neanderthals, asturias, Cannibalism, Royal society
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