(ORDO NEWS) — Spanish scientists, together with researchers from Portugal and Austria, discovered a large number of ancient animal skulls in a cave where Neanderthals lived 40 thousand years ago.
The multi-level cave of Cueva des Cubierta, first discovered in 1978, is located in the Madrid region of Spain. The remains of Neanderthals, animal bones and tools were found in it.
In a new study, archaeologists have climbed to the third level, where several animal bones were found scattered on the floor, as well as the skulls of large herbivores.
Most of the skulls once belonged to bison or aurochs, extinct primitive bulls. Skulls of five male deer and two rhinos were also found.
The skulls were carefully removed and processed with various tools and fire outside the cave. Then the second stage of processing took place, possibly associated with the removal of the brain.
The collection of skulls indicates that the Neanderthals who brought them to the cave viewed the harvested animals not only as food, but also endowed them with symbolic meaning.
The skulls were large and heavy and could not supply enough nutrients. Thus, the remains most likely served some other purpose, for example, they were hunting trophies.
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