February 22, 2024

Science: Bone finds show diverse Neanderthal diets

Sciences
Bone finds show a varied diet of Neanderthals

The Tarmigan bone is located under a magnifying glass in a display case in the Prehistoric Museum. Photo

© Stefan Puchner / dpa

Neanderthals had a more diverse diet than had long been assumed. According to the researchers, their diet also includes small animals such as snowy grouse and rabbits. This supports new bone finds from the “Hohle Fels” cave in the Swabian Jura, which were presented Tuesday at the Museum of Prehistory (Urmu) in Blaubeuren. This is the best evidence of these hunting methods in Central Europe, the museum and the University of Tübingen announced on Tuesday.

Neanderthals had a more diverse diet than had long been assumed. According to the researchers, their diet also includes small animals such as snowy grouse and rabbits. This supports new bone finds from the “Hohle Fels” cave in the Swabian Jura, which were presented Tuesday at the Museum of Prehistory (Urmu) in Blaubeuren. This is the best evidence of these hunting methods in Central Europe, the museum and the University of Tübingen announced on Tuesday.

Until now, it was assumed that Neanderthals primarily hunted large game such as reindeer, wild horses or woolly rhinos, explained the scientific director of the museum in the Alps Donau region, Nicholas Cunard. But for a long time, they were not thought to be capable of hunting the more complex small, more agile animals such as birds and rabbits.

The fossils now on display are said to be around 65,000 years old and show signs of battle over bird bones that must have come from Neanderthals. “Most of the evidence suggests that the joints were broken and the flesh separated from the bone,” said the archaeologist from the Department of Paleontology and Quaternary Ecology at the University of Tübingen.

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Cunard found that the hypothesis that Neanderthals died because of their diet has become weaker at least as a result of the discoveries. The exact reasons for their extinction have not been fully elucidated to this day. One thesis is that the ancestors of modern humans died due to their lack of mental abilities and limited diet. Urmu’s director, Stefanie Kölbl, said that assumption should now be reviewed.

With the help of new excavation methods, researchers have succeeded for the first time in uncovering tiny bird bones from layers of soil dating back thousands of years in the cave near Schellingen. The “Hohle Fels” cave is part of the Swabian Alb UNESCO Biosphere Region. One of the most important finds from the cave is the “Venus of Hohl Wels” – one of the oldest representations of the human body.

Bones from the time of the ancestors of modern humans can be considered the “discovery of the year” until September 12 in Ormo in Plobeurin.

Prehistoric Museum Blaubeuren Communication

dpa