Skip to comments.Neanderthal Hunters Rivalled Human Skill
Posted on 09/24/2003 8:19:27 AM PDT by blam
Neanderthal hunters rivalled human skills
17:34 23 September 03
NewScientist.com news service
Neanderthals were not driven from northern Europe by vastly superior human hunters, suggests an analysis of hunting remains.
The study by Donald Grayson of the University of Washington and Francoise Delpech of the University of Bordeaux challenges a popular theory that the primitive peoples died out because they were far less skillful hunters.
The pair examined the fossilised remains of butchered animals from a cave in southwest France.
Neanderthals inhabited southern France from 65,000 years before the present until roughly 40,000 to 35,000 years ago. Neanderthals disappeared from the region about the time the earliest anatomically modern humans, known as Cro-Magnon appeared.
Precisely why Neanderthals disappeared remains a puzzle. But the idea that early humans were much more intelligent, dexterous and socially sophisticated is being questioned by a growing body of archaeological evidence.
Grayson and Delpech found no difference in the prey caught and butchered by Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon after studying more than 7200 bones and teeth from large hoofed animals.
Both Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon feasted on a wide variety of ungulate species including reindeer, roe deer and horse. In both cases the proportion of different species consumed varied according to climatic changes.
"This study suggests Cro-Magnon were not superior in getting food from the landscape," says Grayson. "We could detect no difference in diet, the animals they were hunting and the way they were hunting across this period of time, aside from those caused by climate change."
Recent analysis of Neanderthal hand bones also shows that they were as nimble-fingered as early humans. Other archaeological evidence indicated that they may have been as intelligent and socially sophisticated as early humans.
"Clearly they did pretty well for hundreds of thousands of years," says Chris Stringer, an archaeologist at the UK's Natural History Museum. "One has to assume they knew how to get meat when they needed it."
But Stringer adds that modern humans may have had better hunting technology, including harpoons, composite tools and possibly even fishing nets compared to the Neanderthals handheld spears.
Neanderthals also appear to have suffered more hunting injuries, he told New Scientist. These factors, combined with particularly difficult environmental conditions, may have given early humans a crucial edge.
"Being able to exploit the environment a little bit more efficiently could in the long run have led to the end of the Neanderthals," Stringer says.
Journal reference: Journal of Archeological Science: (doi:10.1016/S0305-4403(03)00064-5)
Title correction: Neanderthals were human too.
I think the Neanderthals assimilated with us...we are Neanderthals.
Nowadays they pride themselves on their empathetic skills, and call themselves "Progressives".
Are you kidding? Afrocentrists CONSTANTLY accuse whites of being part Neanderthal... despite the fact that modern genetics shows otherwise.
I think recent behavior belies this statement.
Someone post a picture of Julia Roberts. I think we've discovered the reason for her idiocy.
Neanderthal men preferred close combat with large game animals. It's a man thing. Neanderthal women used to gossip endlessly about this and other amusing man topics.
Gene, You've not been paying attention.
And they drank a lot. I've read other accounts about Zana that claimed she had thick, dark red hair. BTW, I think they should dig up some of her kids and extract some DNA.
In the mid-eighteenth century, hunters in the Ochamchir region of Georgia (a Province of Russia on the edge of the Black sea) captured a 'wild woman' who had ape-like features, a massive bosom, thick arms, legs, and fingers, and was covered with hair. This 'wild woman', named Zana by her captors, was so violent at first that she had to spend many years in a cage with food being tossed to her.
Eventually, she was domesticated and would perform simple tasks, like grinding corn. She had an incredible endurance against cold, and couldn't stand to be in a heated room.
She enjoyed gorging herself on grapes from the vine, and also had a weakness for wines, often drinking so heavily she would sleep for hours. As Colin Wilson points out in The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Mysteries, this is likely how she became the mother of many children to different fathers. These children usually died when she tried to wash them in the freezing river, a mistake that is understandible if she expected the children to have her own resistance to cold; but being half Homo sapiens, they just froze. The villagers just started to take her children away from her and raise them as their own; unlike their mother, the children developed the ability to communicate as well as any other villager.
Zana died in the village about 1890; the youngest of her children died in 1954. Her story was researched by Professor Porchnev who interviewed many old people (one as old as a hundred and five) who remembered Zana, as well as two of her grandchildren. the grandchildren had dark skin and a Negroid look, and the grandson, named Shalikula, had jaws so powerful that he could lift a chair with a man sitting in it.