Neanderthals preferred to hunt large steppe and tundra animals

(ORDO NEWS) — French and Spanish anthropologists found that European Neanderthals preferred to hunt large ungulates that inhabited the open steppes and tundra, and these ancient people did not change their hunting habits even with sudden changes in climate.

“We studied the bones and teeth of a large number of ungulates, whose remains were found in the Neanderthal cave Com-Grenal in southeastern France.

Their analysis showed that these ancient people preferred to hunt animals living in the open spaces of the tundra and steppes, and Neanderthals continued to do this even during severe climatic shifts,” the researchers wrote.

Scientists have long believed that Neanderthals were noticeably inferior to Cro-Magnons and other early Homo sapiens in cultural development and the ability to use tools.

Presumably, they did not know how to speak, had no culture, religion, and did not even know how to make a fire. Excavations in recent years in Croatia, Israel and Spain show that these ideas were erroneous.

Discoveries like these are leading anthropologists to look for other explanations for the extinction of the Neanderthals, linking their extinction to how these early humans foraged for food and adapted to climate change and other changes in environmental conditions.

Problems of this kind, in particular, are indicated by the small size of Neanderthal populations, traces of which are preserved in the DNA of ancient people.

Hunting traditions of the Neanderthals

A group of French and Spanish anthropologists led by Emmanuel, a researcher at the University of Toulouse (France), tried to understand what role their hunting habits could have played in the extinction of the Neanderthals.

To obtain such information, scientists studied four hundred remains of various ungulates, which were eaten by Neanderthals from the Kom-Grenal cave, located in southwestern France.

As anthropologists note, they were primarily interested in the teeth of red and reindeer, as well as ancient aurochs and bison, whose meat the inhabitants of the cave regularly ate.

Scientists are interested in them due to the fact that on the surface of the incisors and molars of these ancient ungulates, a characteristic pattern of scratches, microcracks and other damage has been preserved, reflecting what kind of vegetation the animal ate immediately before it was caught by Neanderthal hunters.

It turned out that virtually all deer, bulls and bison eaten by Neanderthals were inhabitants of the steppes or tundra, who ate mainly grass and other soft vegetation.

This was a big surprise for researchers, since over the 30-40 thousand years that Neanderthals lived in the Com-Grenal cave, the climate of France and the rest of Europe had to change dramatically several times, which led to the appearance and disappearance of vast forests, steppes and tundras on their territories.

The absence of similarly large changes in the Neanderthal diet suggests that they did not try to adapt to climate change. In other words, they constantly adhered to the same hunting traditions.

What is the reason for this, while scientists cannot say for sure, however, they suggest that such a feature of the behavior of Neanderthals could serve as one of the factors that contributed to their disappearance.


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