Neanderthals Eating Neanderthals
The exact relationship between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens has never been truly understood. As more and more scientific evidence comes pouring in, it becomes more and more apparent that it is nearly impossible to draw a clear line between us and them. According to John Shea, an archaeologist, Neanderthals and Homo sapiens performed so many similar tasks and both survived and thrived under conditions that would have killed off people nowadays, even with the incredible extent of our technology. One thing that is for certain is that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens interbred to some extent, and people from areas like the Middle East tend to have some amount of Neanderthal DNA within their genomes.
Recently, new evidence has been found that adds a new dimension to the presumed lifestyles and habits of Neanderthals, as it has become seemingly "irrefutable" that they partook in cannibalistic behavior.
In the caves of Goyet, an archaeological site in Southern Belgium, the bones of at least 4 adults have been found and studied to show signs and markings that "provide clear evidence for butchery activities." These bones displayed signs of cutting that were indicative of flesh being stripped from them, and they were broken in ways similar to those of horses and reindeer, presumably in attempts to access the nutritious marrow within.
It doesn't stop there, though. Apparently, Neanderthals also used the bones of their kin's remains to make tools, with clear indications that they were used to sharpen stone.
According to Antonio Rosas, this practice was not limited to the Neanderthals of Belgium, as many other populations have shown signs of cannibalistic behavior.
Ultimately, the precise reasons behind why Neanderthals were participating in such behavior remains unknown. There were definitely some periods of intense starvation that would have potentially driven them to eat their peers for food, though it cannot be ruled out that they may have been doing so symbolically as some form of ritual.
Posted by Peter Makhoul (3)