A groundbreaking discovery has provided the earliest evidence of Neanderthals successfully hunting large predators, dating back a staggering 48,000 years.
This remarkable find revolves around the remains of a cave lion, recently unearthed in Siegsdorf, Germany, offering the first direct confirmation that Neanderthals, alongside other hominids, were adept at taking down formidable big cats.
Examination of the lion’s bones reveals that it met its demise at the hands of a Neanderthal wielding a wooden spear, which punctured the creature’s ribs, ultimately delivering a lethal blow.
Analysis of the angle of the fatal wound suggests that the hunter stealthily approached the lion from behind, striking it in the lower abdomen while the magnificent beast lay on its side.
Further evidence of Neanderthal resourcefulness is found in the stone tool marks etched onto the skeleton, signifying that the lion was not just killed but also utilized for its meat.
While this discovery is undeniably remarkable, Gabriele Russo, a zoo archaeologist, believes that this behavior predates this particular find considerably.
Within this comprehensive study, PhD student Russo, hailing from the University of Tübingen, also introduced three cave lion paw bones, dating back a staggering 190,000 years.
Upon closer examination, telltale marks on these bones suggest that the animals had been skillfully skinned for their hides, hinting at the hunting of large predators thousands of years earlier. However, concrete evidence directly substantiating this hypothesis has yet to surface.
Russo elaborated on the potential significance of these findings, stating, “A lion pelt with attached claws could have held multifaceted meanings for Neanderthals, serving as a unique piece of clothing for warmth, for important rituals, or as a striking display.”
Instances of this nature, where direct evidence of hunts of such sophistication is unearthed in archaeological records, are exceedingly rare. This recent revelation opens the door to a deeper understanding of the hunting techniques employed by our ancient Neanderthal predecessors.
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