Study: Neanderthals may have been eaten by Homo sapiens
Homo sapiens may have been responsible for butchering Neanderthals in the Stone Age. Evidence for this theory has been found on a jawbone in France. The bone was covered in cut marks similar to those found when humans stripped the flesh from animals.
Neanderthal man evolved in Europe around 300,000 years ago. It’s believed that they survived several ice ages and interglacial periods before dying out around 30,000 years ago, at almost the same time as human beings arrived on the continent from Africa. Some scientists believe Neanderthals couldn’t compete with Homo Sapiens for the scarce resources of the times, whereas other researchers believe that Neanderthals were more susceptible to the impact of climate change.
However, a recent discovery at Les Rois in south-west France has provided some evidence for a compelling and controversial argument that has been published in a study in the Journal of Anthropological Sciences. The discovery was a Neanderthal jawbone that seems to have been butchered by modern humans. The leader of the research team, Fernando Rozzi of Paris's Centre National de la Récherche Scientifique, believes the flesh was eaten by humans and the teeth used for a necklace.
The bones found at Les Rois were covered in cut marks similar to those left behind when humans stripped the flesh from deer during the Stone Age. Rozzi believes that humans attacked Neanderthals, sometimes killing them and bringing the bodies to caves to eat.
While one set of bones with cut marks doesn’t make a case for human cannibalism it does show that modern humans and Neanderthals were living in the same area of Europe at the same time and were interacting, sometimes violently. If anything, this study strengthens the evidence that competition from modern humans contributed to the demise of the Neanderthals though not necessarily because of a human predilection for Neanderthal flesh.